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Full text of "Perceptions and expectations battered women have of their current and ideal marital relationships"

THE PERCEPTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS BATTERED VJOMEN 
HAVE OF THEIR CURRENT AND IDEAL MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS 



By 

JODI SAMUELS SHIR 



A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCflOOL 

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT 

OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF 

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY 

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 

198 6 



This dissertation is dedicated to my parents, 

Don and Mimi Samuels, 
who inspired me and supported me in pursuing my 

academic dreams. 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

I wish to begin my acknowledgements by thanking each 
and every member of my committee. I would like to thank 
Harry Grater for his responsiveness and valuable input 
throughout this research process. I am deeply grateful to 
Marty Heesacker for his pertinent contributions to my study 
and to my academic and personal growth. Special thanks go 
to Andres Nazario, Bob Ziller, and Warren Bargad for their 
guidance, suggestions, and sincere involvement in this 
project. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude 
to Gary Sutton whose statistical knowledge and willingness 
to help enabled me to get through the most gruesome portion 
of this study. 

I would like to thank the directors and staff of the 
participating agencies for their availability, cooperation, 
and understanding of the importance of research in the area 
of battered women. Special thanks are extended to all the 
women v/ho volunteered to be interviewed and were willing to 
share openly their intimate lives and took the risk of re- 
experiencing painful memories for the sake of revealing the 
truth and educating others by their experiences. 

It is a pleasure to acknowledge the emotional and 
practical support of my husband, Guy Shir, and my family 



111 



whose empathy, patience, confrontations, and enthusiasm 
aided in completing this assignment. 



IV 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii 

ABSTRACT vii 

CHAPTERS 

I INTRODUCTION 1 

Statement of the Problem 7 

Purpose of the Study 7 

Need for the Study 8 

Research Hypotheses 10 

Significance of the Study 11 

Definition of Terms 12 

Organization of the Study 14 

II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 15 

Historical Origins 15 

Differences in Men and Women 17 

Factors Associated With Wife Abuse 18 

Individual Factors 19 

Batterers 

Abused Women 

Demographic Factors 2 

Economic Factors 21 

Status 21 

Relationship Factors 22 

Stress and Isolation 23 

Cycle of violence 23 

Victim or Witness 24 

Profile of Wife Abuse 25 

Models That Explain Family Violence 27 

The Psychiatric Model 27 

The Social Situational Model 27 

Social Learning Theory 2 8 

Resource Theory 2 9 

Patriarchy and Wife Abuse 29 



Theories That Explain Why They Stay 3 

Learned Helplessness 32 

Walker Cycle Theory of Violence 34 

Does the Violence End? 36 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 37 

The Circumplex Model 3 8 

Marital and Family Cohesion 39 

Marital and Family Adaptability 41 

Marital and Family Communication 43 

Family Adaptability and Cohesiveness 

Evaluation Scales (FACES) 47 

Implications of This Study 48 

III METHODOLOGY 53 

Population and Sample 53 

Instrumentation. 55 

Data Collection Procedures 59 

Hypotheses/Data Analysis 60 

IV RESULTS 63 

Sample Characteristics 63 

Analysis of Hypotheses 77 

Summary of Findings 83 

V DISCUSSION 85 

Discussion of Results 85 

Limitations of the Study 91 

Discussion of Demographics 93 

Concluding Remarks 96 

APPENDICES 

A EVALUATION OF FACES II 99 

B COMPARISON STUDIES ON EDUCATION 102 

C COMPARISON STUDIES ON DEMOGRAPHICS 104 

D DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE 107 

E FAMILY ADAPTABILITY AND COHESIVENESS 

EVALUATION SCALES 109 

F INTRODUCTORY LETTERS 113 

G DEBRIEFING LETTER 117 

REFERENCES 118 

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 13 



VI 



Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School 

of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the 

Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy 



THE PERCEPTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS BATTERED WOMEN 
HAVE OF THEIR CURRENT AND IDEAL MARITAL RELATIONSHIP 

BY 

JODI SAMUELS SHIR 

August 1996 

Chair: Dr. Harry Grater 
Department : Psychology 

The purpose of this study was to explore both the 
current perceptions and ideal expectations battered women 
have for their marital relationships. The variables were 
drawn from previous research and the Circumplex Model of 
David Olson and his colleagues (1979) . It was hypothesized 
that battered women's current relationship, as well as 
their ideal relationship, would be categorized as Extreme 
according to the Circumplex Model. Such a categorization 
has been linked with a variety of family dysfunction. 

Questionnaires were completed by 57 women during their 
stay at either the Broward County or Dade County Women in 
Distress shelters. An additional 22 questionnaires were 
completed by women who were participating in out-patient 
therapy through the Broward County shelter. 

vii 



Chi-square analyses revealed significant findings for 
both of these hypotheses (p<.0001). Looking at the 
residuals between the expected and observed values showed 
that their current perceptions fell into the extreme family 
type and their ideal expectations fell into the balanced 
family type at a greater frequency than that expected by 
chance . 

Selected demographics were also collected and reported. 
In addition, the limitations of this study and alternative 
interpretations of the results are addressed. 



Vlll 



CHAPTER I 
INTRODUCTION 

The intent of this study was to explore both the 
current perceptions and future expectations battered women 
have in regards to their marital relationships. 

In the past decade, domestic violence, particularly 
spouse abuse, has been brought increasingly to the public's 
attention. What was once considered an unspoken family 
issue, condoned and encouraged by society is now deemed a 
social problem (Dobash & Dobash, 1971; Roy, 1977; Stacey & 
Shupe, 1983; Strauss, 1978). Considered as one 
representation of violence against women, spouse abuse was 
initially addressed through the impetus of the feminist 
movement. In an effort to better understand, treat, and 
ameliorate the problem of conjugal assault, a host of 
disciplines and groups, including helping professionals and 
feminists, have undertaken the charge to research the 
problem (Fleming, 1979; Hansen & Barnhill, 1982; Hilberman, 
1980; NiCarthy, Merriam & Coffman, 1984; Walker, 1979, 
1984) . This involvement has led to a focus on providing 
safety and treatment for spouse abuse victims as well as 
driving research efforts to search for the causes and 



2 
effects of such abuse. 

An indication of the extent of the problem is the 
number of individuals affected by domestic violence. Many 
experts cite incident rates as high as 60% (Gelles, 1974; 
Walker, 1979) , and even conservative estimates, derived from 
studies with allegedly representative national samples, 
indicate that almost 3 0% of married women in the United 
States experience some physical spouse abuse at some point 
in their marriage (Straus, 1978) . From one national survey 
of violence in U.S. American homes, researchers reported 
that in one household out of six, a spouse has committed an 
act of violence against his or her partner in the past year 
(Strauss, Gelles & Steinmetz, 1980) . The researchers in that 
survey concluded that an American's greatest risk of being 
assaulted, injured, or murdered occurs in one's own home by 
a family member. Forty % of all female murder victims are 
killed by their husbands (Dobash & Dobash, 1977-78, 1979) . 
Beatings constitute the most prevalent method of wife murder 
(Fields, 1977-78) . 

Wife abuse exacts a high physical, psychological, and 
social price. Conjugal abuse affects not only the marital 
dyad, but also the children and family unit. When violence 
occurs in the family, children are seeing models for how to 
handle relationships and disagreement. A cultural tradition 
exists to utilize hitting as punishment to curb unwanted 
behavior. Theoretically, children not only learn to curb 



3 
behaviors through this model; realistically, they also learn 
that violence and love are linked, that violence is morally 
right, and that violence is justifiable when something is 
really important (Gelles, 1977) . Thus, an attitude that 
violence can be exercised for the "good" of the recipient is 
promulgated (Miller, 1983) . These lessons in childhood are 
transferred to the context of other social relationships, 
and violence in families and relationships becomes a way of 
life (Gelles, 1977; Miller, 1983, 1986) . The 
intergenerational cycle theory of violence, i.e., that 
children who are recipients of violence will grow up to be 
perpetrators of violence, has been validated repeatedly (cf . 
Bakan, 1971; Gil, 1970; Gillen, 1946; Maurer, 1976; Palmer, 
1962; Steele and Pollack, 1974; Welsh, 1976) . 

Also, domestic violence has significant costs for 
society. As examples, public and private sector funds are 
used to pay for shelters, counseling, police intervention, 
legal avenues and other resources. Police face greater 
injury and death at the scenes of domestic violence than at 
any other crime scene in which they intervene (Bard and 
Zacker, 1974) . 

Wife abuse is a chronic crime which escalates in 
severity and poses a serious threat to the safety of the 
women involved (Pagelow, 1977a, 1977b, 1981; Walker, 1979) . 
Battered women commonly report receiving murder threats from 
their abusers, as well as perceiving the batterers' 



4 
capabilities to kill them (Walker, 1979) . The violence in 
wife abuse is often excessive and relentless, with beatings 
continuing after the victims are either unconscious or dead 
(Okun, 1986; Walker, 1979; Wolfgang, 1958) . The severity of 
the threat to abused women's lives is substantiated by the 
statistics on women who are murdered by their partners 
(Dobash and Dobash, 1977-78, 1979) . Many more women seek 
safe shelter than abusers seek treatment for their problem 
(Fleming, 1979) . Batterers find it extremely difficult to 
acknowledge their behavior as a problem or to take 
responsibility for the outcome of their brutality (Walker, 
1979) . The chances are quite slim that battered women who 
return to their households will experience an improved 
conjugal relationship with less threat of violence (Pagelow, 
1981) . Unfortunately, however, many women do return to these 
relationships and it is therefore imperative that research 
continues within this realm in order to determine how 
clinicians can best treat the battered wife as well as the 
entire family. 

It has become evident that wife abuse affects not only 
the wife, but the entire family. Viewed against this 
background, models of family functioning which can explain 
and predict the behavior and adjustment of family members 
are of great importance. One such model that has been 
developed is the Circumplex Model (Olson, Sprenkle, & 
Russell, 1979) . They clustered more than 50 concepts from 



5 
the family therapy and family research literatures and 
postulated three dimensions of family behavior: cohesion, 
adaptability, and communication. Cohesion is defined as the 
emotional bonding family members have towards one another. 
Adaptability is the capacity of the family system to change 
its power structure, role relations, and relationship rules 
in response to situational and developmental stress. 
Communication, the third dimension, is important for 
facilitating family's movement along the cohesion and 
adaptability dimensions. 

Olson and his associates have placed the dimensions of 
cohesion and adaptability in a Circumplex Model in which 
different types of family systems are identified. They 
hypothesized that a curvilinear relationship exits between 
cohesion and adaptability and optimal family functioning. 
Specifically, they proposed that moderate degrees of both 
cohesion and adaptability, as measured by the Family 
Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales (FACES) , are the 
most functional for family development. 

One of the assets of any theoretical model is that 
hypotheses can be deduced and tested in order to evaluate 
and further develop the model. If the formulations of Olson 
and his associates are valid, they would have considerable 
utility in the diagnosis, treatment, and research of 
battered women's families. Empirical evaluations of FACES 
and the Circumplex Model have provided support for this 



6 

model. For example, three studies with clinical populations 
(Gabarino, Sebes, and Schellenbach, 1984; Killorin & Olson, 
1980; Sprenkle and Olson, 1978), two of which were authored 
by developers of the model, have shown that 

higher- functioning families tend to possess moderate degrees 
of cohesion and adaptability, whereas more disturbed 
families tend to present extreme degrees. 

Following from this, this study will explore the 
current perceptions battered women have of their most recent 
relationship. Specifically, it is hypothesized that these 
scores will fall into the rigidly-disengaged cell on the 
Circumplex Model, classifying their family as extreme. As 
described in the literature review that follows, the extreme 
family type usually lacks a healthy emotional bond as well 
as lacking adaptability as it was described herein. 
Additionally, this study will examine the expectations 
battered women have for their ideal marital relationship. 
Specifically, this study hypothesizes that the scores for 
their ideal expectations will fall into the chaotically- 
enmeshed cell, categorizing their family type as extreme. 
This assumption is based on the idea that these women would 
be so unsatisfied and unhappy in their current relationship 
that they would seek the opposite extreme, that being an 
intense emotional bond and alot of ability for adaptability 
such that the relationship becomes too flexible rather than 
a healthy moderate balance. 



7 

Problem Statement 

It has been indicated by several researchers (Carlson, 
1977; Hartik, 1982) that very little systematic research has 
been conducted in this area. The limited data collection 
tend not to be oriented toward service delivery. It is noted 
that these pioneer writers in the field of wife abuse 
focused primarily upon the sociological or legal aspects of 
the issues, and a paucity of statistical empiricism of the 
psychological approach is evident . 

Walker (1981) confirmed the lack of information that 
deals with the relationship between the battering experience 
and the mental health status of the abused women. She stated 
that up to this point there are no records that indicate any 
consideration was given to the impact of psychological 
injuries that might result from such abuse. 

Warner (1982) recognized the importance of the process 
of assessment from a holistic point of view. She believed 
that understanding the dynamics of the violence and 
assessing the emotional factors that occur after an act of 
violence may facilitate in determining the services and the 
referral sources essential for adequate survival of each 
victim. 

Purpose 
The purpose of this study was to examine the 
functionality/dysfunctionality of the relationships battered 



8 

women are currently in as well as those that they would seek 
out. Specifically, this study sought to explore the 
perceptions and expectations of a battered woman in regards 
to her current and ideal marital relationship. This would 
be measured using FACES II (Olson, Bell and Portner 1979) . 
The prediction would be that both the current and ideal 
scores would fall into the dysfunctional range as predicted 
by the circumplex model. It was assumed that this would be 
the result of their prior history of physical as well as 
psychological abuse in addition to their current 
demographics. Further, this study will explore whether or 
not these current and ideal responses fit into one specific 
subtype on the Circumplex Model. Assuming these purposes 
are fulfilled, we would be able to make better implications 
on how to ideally approach these women in treatment. The 
importance of understanding family dynamics is an essential 
part of the healing process and this study serves as an 
attempt towards this end. 

Need 
It is apparent that the demands to provide mental heath 
services to the victims of spousal abuse and their families 
have increased as a result of more exposure and recognition 
of the problem. In several studies researchers have examined 
various factors related to women remaining in or leaving a 
relationship when they are battered, though the researchers 



9 

did not form global theories which guided their choice of 
factors . 

The choice of studying battered women's current 
perceptions and expectations of ideal marital relationships 
stems from the belief that these perceptions and 
expectations may play a highly influential role in much of 
the behavior of victims. These variables are particularly 
significant because of the effects they would have on the 
emotional growth and development of the victims. Faulty 
perceptions and low expectations may block the victims from 
taking a stance in changing their plight, may reduce the 
number of alternatives they are willing to consider, and may 
further their entrapment and resignation to continue in 
destructive relationships. These conditions may affect the 
frequency and/or the persistence in exerting efforts to seek 
professional and paraprof essional help. They can keep the 
victims from doing some things necessary for their survival 
and are certainly obstacles to their own autonomy. 

The psychological aftereffects of battering were viewed 
as one of the major factors responsible for women staying in 
abusive homes. These aftereffects typically include the 
physical, financial, and emotional dependency which all 
result in a low level of self-esteem and serve to keep the 
battered women immobilized both psychologically and 
behaviorally (Moore, 1979) . However, also worth exploring is 
the impact these aftereffects have on the perceptions and 



10 
expectations of the battered women. 

This study is also important due to its empirical 
nature. The model of family functioning proposed by Olson 
and his associates has not been applied to battered women. 
Nor has the model been utilized to address the issues that 
pertain to different ideal expectations battered women may 
have that would serve to either promote or inhibit effective 
functioning of family members. The present study addresses 
these needs . 

Research Hypotheses 
The specific research hypotheses were as follows: 

1. Do battered women have dysfunctional expectations 
for their ideal marital relationships, as evidenced by their 
scores falling into the Extreme family type on the 
Circumplex Model? 

2. What is the level of satisfaction battered women 
have for their current system? 

3. Will battered women's current perceptions or ideals 
cluster into a specific cell on the Circumplex Model? 

3a. Will their current perceptions fall into the 
rigidly disengaged cell? 

3b. Will their ideal expectations fall into the 
chaotically enmeshed cell? 

4. Will there be differences in scores between battered 
women sampled from different shelters? 



11 

5. How do the demographic factors correlate with the 
cells/subtypes on the circumplex model? 



Significance 

This study has implications for researchers in the area 
of domestic violence, shelter personnel, community agency 
personnel, private practitioners, and battered women. A 
workable theory which accurately describes the social 
problem of wife abuse and which can be used to shape a 
better family unit and society has yet to be defined. 
Whether refinement of current theories or evolution of a new 
theory occurs, research is required on the batterer, the 
family unit, society, and the battered woman. Despite the 
heritage of this problem as a socially taboo subject, and 
the paucity of funding provided to it, the findings from 
this research effort will add to what is known about 
battered women and be a part of the base for future research 
efforts on conjugal violence against women. 

By establishing a relationship between the variables 
under investigation, the plan was that this study would 
allow researchers, clinicians, and educators to better 
understand the dynamics of wife abuse. Assuming that 
battered women do have dysfunctional expectations in regards 
to their ideal marital relationship, clinicians would have 
to approach these family systems in more nontraditional ways 



12 
by first expanding the realm of possibilities for marital 
functioning. 

Finally, battered women can gain greater self 
understanding and mutual appreciation by more clearly 
knowing the challenges they face to establish violence-free 
lives. These findings will not provide them with the causal 
explanations for why some stay with or return to abusers and 
some do not. Yet, the findings may provide them with clues 
to explore what in their situations are defensive responses 
to their abuse and which have roots in both external and 
internalized oppression. Greater understanding can help 
minimize self -blame and guilt. 

Definition of Terms 
Operational definitions for terms relevant to the 
research are provided to enhance understanding. 

Battered Woman 

A battered woman is any married or unmarried woman over 
the age of 16 who has been physically abused in ways which 
caused pain or injury on at least one occasion at the hands 
of an intimate male partner. (A definition for battered 
women has not been universally agreed upon by researchers) . 
The most notable distinctions about this definition are as 
follows: A battered woman would not need to present evidence 
of injury; self -report of physical battering is sufficient. 



13 
The battering need not be a repeated occurrence as preferred 
by some authors (Michigan Women's Commission, 1977; Parker & 
Scumacher, 1977) . Although abuses other than physical may be 
just as devastating, and support exists to include 
psychological abuse as a component of battering (Moore, 
1979; Walker, 1978b, 1979, 1980a), the definition herein has 
been limited to physical harm alone. The purpose is because 
physical abuse can be documented more readily; 
operationalizing a definition for psychological abuse is, at 
best, extremely difficult. This sample may include women who 
are cohabitating with men although not legally married to 
them, or separated or divorced partners who are living with 
each other.) Battered wives and wife abuse victims will also 
mean battered women as defined here. Abused, harmed, or 
beaten may be substituted for battered. 

Adaptability 

"The ability of a marital/family system to change its 
power structure, role relationships, and relationship rules 
in response to situational and developmental stress" (Olson 
et al . , 1979, p. 12) . The battered woman's score on the 
adaptability dimension for the Family Adaptability and 
Cohesiveness Evaluation Scale (FACES II) will constitute 
adaptability for this study. 



14 
Cohesion 

"The emotional bonding members have with one another 
and the degree of individual autonomy a person experiences 
in the family system" (Olson et al . , 1979, p. 5). For this 
study, the battered woman's score on the cohesion dimension 
of FACES II will constitute cohesiveness in the family. 

Organization of Study 
This study will be presented in five chapters. Chapter 
two is a review of the related literature. The proposed 
research methodology is detailed in the third chapter. Data 
analyses and results are printed in the fourth chapter. 
Finally, in Chapter five, the researcher offers a discussion 
and interpretation of the results, a discussion of the 
limitations of the study, and further implications. 



CHAPTER II 
REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE 

The literature review will present research that will 
aid in the understanding of the background upon which this 
study was based. There will be five sections in this 
chapter. The first four sections will present material on 
the history, selected demographic characteristics, theories 
that attempt to explain the dynamics of wife abuse, and a 
discussion of why women would remain in these relationships. 
The final section will discuss and review the research which 
pertains to the model of family functioning developed by 
Olson et al. (1979) . 

Historical Origins 
The origins of spouse abuse have been traced back to 
the times when history was first recorded. Biblical 
references to wife-beating are commonly cited (Davidson, 
1979) as are similar religious exhortations to treat wives 
with respect and tenderness (Hendricks, 1982) . Patriarchy is 
often blamed for the introduction of sexism in society 
through its subordination of women concept (Stone, 1976) , 
and the Dobashes (1981) carefully trace its linkages to 

15 



16 
spouse abuse . 

History also forces researchers to look at linkages of 
woman-battering to other violent acts committed by men, 
against those weaker and less powerful than themselves, 
usually women and children. Most agree that men continue to 
use violence as a method of getting what they want because 
it is successful and no one stops them (Martin, 1976; Straus 
et al . , 1980; Walker, 1979; Berk et al . , 1983). Feminists 
assert that all men benefit from the violence against women 
committed by a few (Leidig, 1981) . Brownmiller (1975) , in a 
historical review of rape, claims that rapists are the 
"shock troops" who serve to convince women to mate and to 
marry with one man to provide her with protection against 
the other men's potential violence. Jones (1980) adds to 
this analogy by claiming that batterers are the "home guard" 
who serve to convince women to behave as men wish in order 
to escape further violence. The tenacity with which assaults 
against women continue provides the empirical evidence that 
violence is seen as a useful tactic to keep a male-dominant, 
patriarchal social order in place (Walker, 1984) . 

The legal system, called upon to mete out punishment 
for those who break society's rules has only recently begun 
to punish wife beaters. This is another example of the 
widespread historical acceptance of such violent behavior. 
Pleck (1979) details the changes in social and legal 
attitudes in the nineteenth century, citing the variability 



17 
between formal and informal means of punishment. She 
documents how community standards of justice, set by men to 
regulate the behavior of other men, were embedded in their 
own definitions of proper behavior for men and women. Jones 
(1980) provides a historical context of similar attitudes 
since the beginning of our country. Gelles (1972) found that 
individuals still reflect those notions of just discipline 
for infractions or perceived standards of behavior. Research 
must measure the impact of such norms of control for them, 
rather than ignore the social context in which violence 
takes place . 

Differences in Women and Men 
The traits of affiliation and sensitivity developed 
through women's roles of nurturing and sustained through 
intimate relating are frequently seen as weaknesses in a 
culture built on male yardsticks of autonomy and success 
(Browne, 198 7) . Perceived as weak by men and even by women, 
these qualities are both valued and denigrated: valued for 
their manageability and the comfort and stability they bring 
to the lives of others, yet belittled as indicating a lack 
of strength, independence, and maturity (Miller, 1976; 
Gilligan, 1982) . Theories of personality and development 
have been based largely on men and male ideals (Freud, 1905, 
1925, & 1961; Piaget , 1932; Erickson, 1950; Kholberg, 1969) . 
Thus, traditional models of psychological development place 



18 
a heavy emphasis on the importance of individuation, task 
mastery, and autonomy, all a part of the prescription for 
being a successful male. 

"Women's" traits, even women's strengths of compassion 
and care, have been described as somehow deviant from this 
traditional model; weaker, less effective, and less 
developed (McClelland, 1975; Miller, 1976; Gilligan, 1982) . 
In particular, the importance attached by women to 
connection- -what Kaplan and Surrey have called the 
"relational self" in women, or the quality of relationships 
with others being at the core of one's self -concept- -is seen 
as less mature and less well-adjusted than the more 
autonomous perspective attributed to men (Kaplan and Surrey, 
1984) . In the male model, intimacy and relatedness often 
appear as threats to the more highly valued goals of 
autonomy and independence . 

This brief review of the history and concurrent 
societal standards for men and women shows clearly that 
there is strong empirical evidence advocating the high 
frequency of woman-battering. 

Factors Associated With Wife Abuse 
The earliest publications on the subject of wife abuse 
took a distinctively psychiatric view of both offender and 
victim. Women who were abused were believed to suffer from 
psychological disorders as did the men who abused them. 



19 
Research conducted in the 1970 's and 1980 's found this view 
of wife battery too simplistic. There are a number of 
individual, demographic, relational, and situational factors 
related to violence towards wives . These factors are 
probably all interrelated (Gelles & Cornell, 1985). 

Individual Factors 

Batterers. Men who assault and batter their wives have 
been found to have low self esteem and vulnerable self 
concepts. A remark, insult, or comment that might not affect 
someone else may be interpreted as a slight, insult, or 
challenge to many of these men. Abusive men have also been 
described as feeling helpless, powerless, and inadequate 
(Ball, 1977; Weitzman and Dreen, 1982) . Violence is 
frequently used as a means of trying to demonstrate one's 
power and adequacy. 

Abused women . Psychological portraits of battered wives 
are difficult to interpret (Gelles and Cornell, 1985). One 
never really knows whether the personality factors found in 
battered wives were present before they were battered or are 
the result of the victimization. 

Battered women have been described as dependent, having 
low self esteem, and feeling inadequate and helpless (Ball, 
1977; Shainess, 1977; Walker, 1979) . Sometimes the 
personality profiles of battered women reported in the 
literature seem directly opposite. While some researchers 



20 
described battered women as unassertive, shy, and reserved 

(Weitzman & Dreen, 1982), other reports picture battered 
women as aggressive, masculine, frigid, and masochistic 

(Snell et al . , 1964; Ball, 1977) 

Democrraphic Factors 

Results of the National Family Violence survey indicate 
that all forms of marital violence occur most frequently 
among those under thirty years of age (Straus et al . , 1980) . 
The rate of marital violence among those under thirty years 
of age is more than double the rate for the next older age 
group (thirty-one to fifty) . 

Studies that examine women who seek help from agencies 
or shelters also find that the mean age is thirty or younger 
(Gayford, 1975; Fagan et al . , 1983). 

Straus and his colleagues also found that wife abuse 
was more common in Black households than white households . 
This is different from child abuse where there were no major 
differences between Blacks and whites. Obviously, race is 
not the only factor in play here. Income and occupational 
status are probably also associated with the increased rates 
of wife abuse among Blacks. 

Marital violence can occur at any stage of a marriage, 
but as the data on age would appear to indicate, newer 
marriages have the highest risk of wife abuse. Maria Roy 
(1977) found that the highest %age of battered women were 



21 
married from 2.5 to 5 years. Another study reported that the 
median length of a violent marriage was 5 years (Fagan et 
al. , 1983) . 

Economic Factors 

One of the main factors associated with wife battery is 
the employment status of the husband. Being unemployed is 
devastating to men in our society. It is a clear 
demonstration that they are not fulfilling society's 
expectation that men are the family providers. Unemployed 
men have rates of wife assault that are almost double the 
rates for employed men (Rounsaville, 1978; Gayford, 1975; 
Prescott Sc Letko, 1977) . Men who are employed part time have 
even higher rates, probably because they have the worst of 
all possible worlds -- no full-time job and not eligible for 
unemployment or other benefits (Straus et al . , 1980). 

Status 

Early studies of spousal violence found that men whose 
educational attainment and occupational status was lower 
than their wives were more likely to assault their wives 
than men who were better educated and had better jobs than 
their spouses (Gelles, 1974; O'Brien, 1971) . Additional 
research bears out the hypothesis that status inconsistency 
and status incompatibility are related to marital violence. 
One example of status inconsistency is where a husband's 



22 

educational background is considerably higher than his 
occupational attainment. Status incompatibility is when the 
husband, who society expects to be the leader of the family, 
had less education and a poorer job than his wife. In both 
of these cases, the risk of marital violence is elevated 
(Hornunq et al . , 1981; Steinmetz, 1982; Rounsaville, 1978). 

Relationship Factors 

One of the most compelling indicators that domestic 
violence is not purely a product of individual factors is 
the finding that certain properties of marital relations 
raise the likelihood of violence. That structural properties 
of marriage and family life are involved means that abuse 
can not be solely attributed to "bad" or "sick" people. 

Decision-making patterns or power balance was found to 
be related to domestic violence. Democratic households homes 
where decision making is shared are the least violent 
families. Homes where all the decisions are made either by 
the wife or the husband have the highest rates of violence. 

Another relationship factor is that if there is one 
type of family violence in a home, there is a good chance 
that another form of violence will be present. Child abuse 
rates are higher in homes where there is spouse abuse 
(Straus et al . , 1980; Hilberman & Munson, 1977; Finklehor, 
1983) . 



23 
Stress and Isolation 

Social stress and social isolation are two final 
factors that are strongly related to the risk of wife-abuse. 
Unemployment, financial problems, sexual difficulties, low 
job satisfaction, large family size, and poor housing 
conditions are all related to marital violence. The more 
socially isolated a family is, the higher the risk that 
there will be wife-abuse. 

Cycle of Violence 

As with child battering, wife battering is related to 
experiences with violence. Individuals who have experienced 
violent childhoods are more likely to grow up and assault 
their wives than men who have not experienced childhood 
violence. Physician J.J. Gayford (1975) as well as other 
investigators found that both offender and victim had a 
violence-ridden childhood (Roy, 1977; Fagan et al . , 1983). 

Drawn from social learning theory, the concept of an 
"intergenerational transmission of violence" explains how 
patterns of violent interaction can be "passed on" from one 
generation to the next. Children growing up in violent homes 
learn from observing, and then imitating, the behaviors of 
the people around them. In addition, they begin to develop 
their own ideas about how different emotions are expressed 
and what constitutes appropriate reactions for various 
situations (Browne, 1987) . These concepts include ideas 



24 
about what behaviors are appropriate for males and females, 
and the roles and responsibilities of different family 
members. Social learning theory suggests that when violence 
is present in the family setting, children will model those 
ways of dealing with relationships and apply similar methods 
of coping when they are faced with threatening situations 
later in life (Bandura, 1973; Bandura & Walters, 1973; 
Herzberger, 1983; Pagelow, 1980). 

In their 1980 national study of couples, Straus, 
Gelles, and Steinmetz asserted that, "Each generation learns 
to be violent by being a participant in a violent family -- 
'Violence begets violence" (p. 121). Findings from studies 
on the development of aggressive behavior support a 
theoretical connection between childhood exposure to 
aggressive acts and involvement with adult violence. For 
instance, exposure to aggression as a child is highly 
correlated with later anti-social or delinquent behavior in 
general, and the acts of violence in particular (Alfaro, 
1978; Farrington, 1978; McCord, 1979; Sorrells, 1977; 
Strausburg, 1978) . 

Victim or Witness 

The impact that childhood exposure to violence can have 
on an individual's future interactional style is further 
highlighted by recent studies that attempt to separate the 
effects of witnessing violence between parental figures from 



25 
those of experiencing violence in the form of childhood 
abuse. Although exposure to violence in the childhood home, 
whether as a victim or a witness or both, is highly 
associated with later involvement in violent relationships, 
the experience of witnessing abuse seems to be the most 
powerful factor for both men and women. Of 42 
characteristics of female victims investigated by 
researchers (Hotaling and Sugarman, 1986) , only 
one-witnessing violence between parents or caregivers while 
growing up- -is consistently related to future wife abuse. 
Similarly, men who witnessed parental violence are much more 
likely to later perpetrate abuse against a female partner 
than men who were the victims of child abuse but did not 
witness abuse between their parents or caregivers (Coleman, 
Weinman & Hsi, 1980; Fagan et al . , 1983; Kalmuss, 1984; 
Rosenbaum & O'Leary, 1981; Rouse, 1984a, 1984b). 

Profile of Wife Abuse 

One way of advancing our understanding of spousal abuse 
is to move beyond a simple explanation of single factors and 
their association with violence. After considering all the 
variables that are found to be related with violence in the 
home, Straus and associates (1980) found twenty 
characteristics relevant in acts of wife beating. They 
included the following: 
1. the husband employed part-time or unemployed 



26 

2. family income under $6000 

3. the husband a manual worker (if employed) 

4 . both husband and wife very worried about economic 
security 

5. the wife dissatisfied with the family's standard of 
living 

6 . two or more children 

7. disagreements over children being common 

8. husband and wife have grown up in families where father 
hit mother 

9. couples married fewer than ten years 

10. the husband and wife both less than thirty years of age 

11. a nonwhite racial group 

12 . above average marital conflict 

13 . very high levels of family and individual stress 

14. the wife or husband dominating family decisions 

15. a husband verbally aggressive to his wife 

16. a wife verbally aggressive to her husband 

17. both getting drunk frequently, but are not alcoholics 

18. couples who lived in a neighborhood fewer than two years 

19. couples who do not participate in organized religion, or 

20. the wife a full-time housewife 



27 
Models That Explain Family Violence 

The Psychiatric Model 

The psychiatric model focuses on the abuser's 
personality characteristics as the chief determinants of 
violence and abuse. A psychiatric model links factors such 
as mental illness, personality defects, psychopathology, 
sociopathology, alcohol and drug misuse, or other 
intra-individual abnormalities to family violence. 

Research indicates that less than 10% of instances of 
family violence is attributable solely to personality 
traits, mental illness, or psychopathology (Steele. 1978). 

The Social Situational Model 

A social-situational model of family violence proposes 
that abuse and violence arise out of two main factors. The 
first is structural stress. The association between low 
income and family violence, for instance, indicates that a 
central factor in violence and abuse is inadequate financial 
resources. The second main factor is the cultural norm 
concerning force and violence in the home. "Spare the rod 
and spoil the child." "The marriage license is a hitting 
license." These are phrases that underscore the widespread 
social approval for the use of force and violence at home. 

The social-situational model notes that such structural 
stresses as low income, unemployment, limited educational 



28 
resources, illness, and the like are unevenly distributed in 
society. While all groups are told that they should be 
loving parents, adoring husbands, and caring wives, only 
some groups get sufficient resources to meet these demands. 
Others fall considerably short of being able to have the 
psychological, social, and economic resources to meet the 
expectations of society, friends, neighbors, loved ones, and 
themselves. Combined with the cultural approval for 
violence, these shortfalls lead many family members to adopt 
violence and abuse as a means of coping with structural 
stress . 

Social Learning Theory 

A subset of social-situational theory is social 
learning theory. A commonly stated explanation for family 
violence is that people learn to be violent when they grow 
up in violent homes. The family is the first place where 
people learn the roles of mother and father, husband and 
wife. The family is one key place where we learn how to cope 
with stress and frustration. The family is also the place 
where people are most likely to first experience violence. A 
history of abuse and violence does increase the risk that an 
individual will be violent as an adult. 

Individuals are not only exposed to techniques of being 
violent, but they also learn the social and moral 
justifications for the behavior. It is not uncommon to hear 



29 
a parent who has physically struck his or her own child 
explain that they were punishing the child for the child's 
own good. 

Resource Theory 

Another explanation of family violence that is 
supported by the available scientific data is resource 
theory (Goode, 1971) . This model assumes that all social 
systems (including the family) rest to some degree on force 
or the threat of force. The more resources- -social , 
personal, and economic- -a person can command, the more force 
he or she can muster. However, according to William Goode, 
the author of this theory, the more resources a person 
actually has, the less he or she will actually use force in 
an open manner. Thus, a husband who wants to be the dominant 
person in the family, but has little education, has a job 
low in prestige and income, and lacks interpersonal skills, 
may chose to use violence to maintain the dominant position. 
In addition, family members may use violence to redress a 
grievance when they have few alternative resources 
available . 

Patriarchy and Wife Abuse 

The sociologists Russell and Rebecca Dobash (1979) see 
wife abuse as a unique phenomenon that has been obscured and 
overshadowed by what they refer to as the "narrow focus on 



30 
domestic violence. The Dobashes make the case that 
throughout history, violence has systematically been 
directed toward women. The Dobashes' central thesis is that 
economic and social processes operate directly and 
indirectly to support a patriarchal (male dominated) social 
order and family structure. Their central theoretical 
argument is that patriarchy leads to subordination of women 
and causes the historical pattern of systematic violence 
directed against wives. 

The Dobashes' theory is perhaps the only theory that 
finds the source of family violence in the society and how 
it is organized, as opposed to within individual families or 
communities. The major drawback of the theory is that it 
uses but a single factor (patriarchy) to explain violence, 
and single factor explanations are rarely useful in social 
science . 

Why Do Thev Stay? 
Why would a woman who has been physically abused by her 
husband remain with him? This question appears in the 
literature as one of the most frequently asked by both 
professionals and the lay public in the course of 
discussions of family violence. Unfortunately, the answer to 
this question is not easily answered. Several factors need 
to be taken into consideration. In the first place the 
decision to either stay with an assaultive spouse or to seek 



31 
intervention or dissolution of a marriage is not related 
solely to the extent or severity of the physical assault. 
Some spouses will suffer repeated severe beatings or even 
stabbings without so much as calling a neighbor, while 
others call the police after a coercive gesture from their 
husbands. Second, the assumption that the victim would flee 
from a conjugal attacker overlooks the complex subjective 
meaning of intraf amilial violence, the nature of commitment 
and entrapment to the family as a social group, and the 
external constraint which limits a woman's ability to seek 
outside help (Gelles, 1976) . As has been reported elsewhere 
(Parnas, 1967; Gelles, 1974; Straus, 1974b, 1976), violence 
between spouses is often viewed as normative and, in fact, 
mandated in family relations. Wives have reported that they 
believe that it is acceptable for a husband to beat his wife 
"every once in a while" (Parnas, 1967: 952; Gelles, 1974: 
59-61) . 

Legal writer Elizabeth Truninger (1971) lists seven 
factors that help explain why women do not break off 
relationships with abusive husbands: 1) they (the women) 
have negative self -concepts ; 2) they believe their husbands 
will reform; 3) economic hardship; 4) they have children who 
need a father's economic support; 5) they doubt they can get 
along alone; 6) they believe divorcees are stigmatized; and 
7) it's difficult for women with children to get work. 
Moreover, Truninger found that women attempt to dissolve a 



32 
violent marriage only after a history of conflict and 
reconciliation. According to this analysis, a wife makes a 
decision to obtain a divorce from her abusive husband when 
she can no longer believe her husband's promises of no more 
violence nor forgive past episodes of violence. 

Ferraro and Johnson (1983) described how women 
"rationalized" being abused, saying things like, "I asked 
for it", "He's sick", and "He didn't injure me". Ferraro and 
Johnson (1983) also demonstrate how these accounts prevented 
the women from seeking help. Along the same lines. Mills 
(1985) described the "techniques of neutralization" that 
battered women use "to help them tolerate violent 
marriages." Mills (1985) found that one way that women 
"manage the violence" directed towards them was they used 
"justifications" (e.g., "compared to others, it seems my 
problems are small") to "minimize the significance of their 
victimization" (p. 109). 

Learned Helplessness 

The theoretical concept of "learned helplessness" has 
been adapted in this realm to explain why women find it 
difficult to escape a battering relationship (Walker, 1978b, 
1979) . Seligman and his colleagues discovered that when 
laboratory animals were repeatedly and noncontingently 
shocked, they became unable to escape from a painful 
situation, even when escape was quite possible and readily 



33 
apparent to animals that had not undergone helplessness 
training. Seligman (1975) likened the learned helplessness 
to a kind of human depression, and showed that both have 
cognitive, motivational, and behavioral components. The 
inability to predict the success of one's actions was 
considered responsible for the resulting perceptual 
distortions. Moreover, Seligman' s theory was further refined 
and reformulated, based on later laboratory trials with 
human participants (Abramson, Seligman & Teasdale, 1978) . 
For example, depressed humans were found to have negative, 
pessimistic beliefs about the efficacy of their actions and 
the likelihood of obtaining future rewards; helpless animals 
act as if they held similar beliefs. Both depressed humans 
and helpless animals exhibited motivational deficits in the 
laboratory. Both showed signs of emotional upset with 
illness, phobias, sleep disturbances, and other such 
symptoms similar to those described as part of the battered 
woman syndrome . 

It has also been suggested that "being a woman, more 
specifically a married woman, automatically creates a 
situation of powerlessness" (Walker, 1979, p. 51), and that 
women are taught sex- role stereotyping which encourages 
passivity and dependency even as little girls (Radloff & 
Rae, 1979, 1981; Dweck, Goetz, & Strauss, 1980). Seligman's 
research indicated that the experience of noncontingency 
between response and outcome early in an animal's 



34 

development increased that animal's vulnerability to learned 
helplessness later in life. He hypothesized that the same 
principles apply in human child raising practices (Seligman, 
1975) . To the extent that animal and human helplessness are 
similar, childhood experiences of noncontingency between 
response and outcome, including socialization practices that 
encourage passivity and dependency, should increase a 
woman's vulnerability to developing learned helplessness in 
a battering relationship. 

Walker Cycle Theory of Violence 

The Walker Cycle Theory of Violence (Walker, 1979) is a 
tension reduction theory which states that there are three 
distinct phases associated in a recurring battering cycle: 
1) the tension building, 2) the acute battering incident, 
and 3) loving contrition. During the first phase, there is a 
gradual escalation of tension displayed by discrete acts 
causing increased friction such as name calling, other mean 
intentional behaviors, and/or physical abuse. The batterer 
expresses dissatisfaction and hostility but not in an 
extreme or maximally explosive form. The woman attempts to 
placate the batterer, doing what she thinks might please 
him, calm him down, or at least, what will not further 
aggravate him. She tries not to respond to his hostile 
actions and uses general anger reduction techniques. Often 
she succeeds for a little while which reinforces her 



35 
unrealistic belief that she can control this man. It also 
becomes part of the unpredictable noncontingency 
response/outcome pattern which creates the "learned 
helplessness" . 

"Phase two is characterized by the uncontrollable 
discharge of the tensions that have built up during phase 
one" (p. 59). The batterer typically unleashes a barrage of 
verbal and physical aggression that can leave the woman 
severely shaken and injured. In fact, when injuries do occur 
it usually happens during this second phase. It is also the 
time police become involved, if they are called at all. The 
acute battering phase is concluded when the batterer stops, 
usually bringing with its cessation a sharp physiological 
reduction in tension. 

In phase three which follows, the batterer may 
apologize profusely, try to assist his victim, show kindness 
and remorse, and shower her with gifts and/or promises. The 
batterer may believe at this point that he will never allow 
himself to be violent again. The woman wants to believe the 
batterer and, early in the relationship at least, may renew 
her hope in his ability to change. This third phase provides 
the positive reinforcement for remaining in the 
relationship, for the woman. 



36 
Does the Violence End? 

The question, "Why don't battered women leave?" is 
based on the assumption that leaving will end the violence. 
While this may be true for some women who leave after the 
first or second incident, even the smoothness of those 
separations depends on the abuser's sense of desperation or 
abandonment and his willingness or tendency to do harm when 
faced with an outcome he does not want or cannot control. 
The longer the relationship continues, and the more 
investment in it by both partners, the more difficult it 
becomes for a woman to leave an abusive man safely. Some 
estimates suggest that at least 50 % of women who leave 
their abusers are followed and harassed or further attacked 
by them (Moore, 1979) . 

Abused women's primary fear, that their abusers will 
find them and retaliate against their leaving, is justified. 
Some women who have left an abusive partner have been 
followed and harassed for months or even years; some have 
been killed (Lindsey, 1978; Martin, 1976; Pagelow, 1980, 
1981). The evidence suggests that, in many cases, the man's 
violence continues to escalate after a separation (Fields, 
1978; Fiora-Gormally, 1978; Lewin, 1979; Pagelow, 1980, 
1981) . 

Violent men do search desperately for their partners 
once the woman leaves (Ewing, Lindsey, & Pomerantz, 1984) . 
Often, they spend days and nights calling her family and 



37 
mutual acquaintances; phoning her place of employment or 
showing up there; driving around the streets looking for 
her; haunting school grounds, playgrounds, and grocery 
stores. They may nearly kill their mates, but they do not 
want to lose them. 

For many battered women, leaving their mates and living 
in constant fear of reprisal or death seems more intolerable 
than remaining, despite their fears of further harm. Women 
in hiding relate how they are afraid to go into their 
apartment when they get home; to go to work in the morning 
or to leave at night; to approach their car in a parking 
lot; to visit friends (Browne, 1987) . They know if their 
estranged partners find them, he may simply retaliate and 
not wait to talk. Shelter personnel who work with battered 
women struggle against their frustration when women return 
to their abusers; yet in many cases, the women are simply 
overwhelmed. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 

Another important concept worth understanding is the 
recognized diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 
(PTSD) , which battered women, like many Vietnam war 
veterans, may develop. Those who study PTSD have found that, 
after experiencing severe and unexpected trauma, or being 
repeatedly and unpredictably exposed to abuse, most people 
tend to develop certain psychological symptoms that continue 



38 
to affect their ability to function long after the original 
trauma. They may believe they are helpless, lacking power to 
change their situation. 

This brief presentation of the diverse theoretical 
perspectives is an indication of the extremely complex 
problem of woman-battering. Given the overlap of so many 
theories. Walker (1980a) proposes a multi-deterministic 
theoretical orientation for explaining causality of woman 
battering. After reviewing over 160 theoretical and 
incidence studies, Lystad (1975) arrived at a similar 
conclusion. He believed that a comprehensive theory of 
domestic violence must take into account factors at the 
psychological, social, and cultural levels. 

This study attempts to provide an answer to the 
question of why victims of conjugal violence stay with their 
husbands by focusing on various aspects of the family and 
family experience which distinguish between women who are 
victims of spousal abuse and those that are not. 

The Circumplex Model 

Viewed against the background of domestic violence, 
models of family functioning which can explain and predict 
the behavior of its members are of great importance. One 
such model that has been developed for this purpose is that 
of Olson, Sprenkle and Russell (1979) . 

Starting in the middle 1970' s, Olson and his associates 



39 
began work on a model of marital and family systems. Their 
model building began out of a sense of frustration over an 
ever-growing list of concepts that were being developed in 
the family systems field. In one article (Olson et al . , 
1979) , they list over 45 concepts which describe various 
family processes. Perceiving a need for synthesis, they 
identified what appeared to be two central concepts, 
cohesiveness and adaptability. In addition, they proposed a 
third dimension: family communication, which is considered 
to be a facilitating dimension in that it enables couples 
and families to move on the cohesion and adaptability 
dimensions. Olson and his colleagues developed the Family 
Cohesion and Adaptability Scale (FACES) to assess the 
cohesion and adaptability dimensions of their model and this 
will be reviewed in detail later. 

Marital and Family Cohesion 

Family cohesion is defined as, "The emotional bonding 
members have with one another and the degree of individual 
autonomy a person experiences in the family system" (Olson 
et al., 1979, p. 5). Within the Circumplex Model, some of 
the specific concepts or variables that can be used to 
diagnose and measure the family cohesion dimensions are: 
emotional bonding, boundaries, coalitions, time, space, 
friends, decision-making, interests, and recreation. 
There are four levels of cohesion, ranging from 



40 

disengaged (very low) to separated (low to moderate) to 
connected (moderate to high) to enmeshed (very high) . It is 
hypothesized that the central levels of cohesion (separated 
and connected) make for optimal family functioning. The 
extremes (disengaged or enmeshed) are generally seen as 
problematic . 

Many families that seek treatment often fall into one 
of these extremes (Olson, 1989) . When cohesion levels are 
high (enmeshed systems) , there is too much consensus within 
the family and too little independence. At the other extreme 
(disengaged systems) , family members "do their own thing, " 
with limited attachment or commitment to their family. In 
the model's central area (separated and connected), 
individuals are able to experience and balance these two 
extremes and are able to be both independent from and 
connected to their families. 

A disengaged relationship often has extreme emotional 
separateness. There is little involvement among family 
members and there is a lot of personal separateness and 
independence. People often do their own thing and have 
separate interests. 

A separated relationship has some emotional 
separateness but it is not as extreme as the disengaged 
system. While time apart is important, there is some 
together and some joint decisions. Activities and interests 
are generally separate but a few are shared. A connected 



41 
relationship has some emotional closeness and loyalty to the 
relationship. Time together is more important than time 
apart to be by oneself. There is an emphasis on 
togetherness. While there are separate friends, there are 
also friends shared by the couple. There are often shared 
interests . 

In the enmeshed relationship, there is an extreme 
amount of emotional closeness and loyalty is demanded. 
Persons are very dependent on each other and reactive to one 
another. There is a general lack of personal separateness 
and little private space is permitted. The energy of the 
persons is mainly focused inside the marriage or family and 
there are few outside individual friends or interests. 

Based on the Circumplex Model, high levels of cohesion 
(enmeshed) and low levels of cohesion (disengaged) might be 
problematic for relationships. On the other hand, 
relationships having moderate scores (separated and 
connected) are able to balance being alone versus together 
in a more functional way. Although there is no absolute best 
level for any relationship, some may have problems if they 
always function at either extreme. 

Marital and Family Adaptability 

Family adaptability is defined as, "The ability of a 
marital or family system to change its power structure, role 
relationships and relationships rules in response to 



42 
situational and developmental stress" (Olson et al . , 1979, 
p. 12) . The concepts used to describe, measure, and diagnose 
couples and families on this dimension include: family 
power, negotiation styles, role relationships and 
relationship rules. 

The four levels of adaptability range from rigid (very 
low) to structured (low to moderate) to flexible (moderate 
to high) to chaotic (very high) . As with cohesion, it is 
hypothesized that central levels of adaptability (structured 
and flexible) are more conducive to marital and family 
functioning, with the extremes (rigid and chaotic) being the 
most problematic for families as they move through the 
family life cycle. 

Basically, adaptability focuses on the ability of the 
marital and family system to change. Much of the early 
application of systems theory to families emphasized the 
rigidity of the family and its tendency to maintain the 
status quo. Until the work of recent theorists, the 
importance of potential for change was minimized. Couples 
and families need both stability and change and the ability 
to change when appropriate distinguishes functional couples 
and families from others. 

Marriages and families can range from having a rigid 
and authoritarian leader to being chaotic and erratic or 
limited leadership. A rigid relationship is where one person 
is highly controlling. The roles are strictly defined and 



43 
the rules do not change. A structured relationship is 
overall less rigid. Leadership is somewhat less 
authoritarian and controlling, and is shared between the 
parents. Roles are stable, but there is some sharing of 
roles. There are a few rule changes, but not a lot of 
change. A flexible relationship is even less rigid. 
Leadership is more equally shared. Roles are sometimes 
shared and rules could change. A chaotic relationship has 
erratic or limited leadership. Decisions are impulsive and 
not well thought out. Roles are unclear and often shift from 
person to person. 

Based on the Circumplex Model, very high levels of 
change (chaotic) and very low levels of change (rigid) might 
be problematic for a marriage and family. On the other hand, 
relationships having moderate scores (structured and 
, flexible) are able to balance some change and some stability 

in a more functional way. Although there is no absolute best 
level for any relationship, many relationships may have 
problems if they always function at either extreme. 

Marital and Family Communication 

Family communication is the third dimension in the 
Circumplex Model, and is considered a facilitating 
dimension. Communication is considered critical for 
facilitating couples and families to move on the other two 
dimensions. Because it is a facilitating dimension. 



r 



i 



44 
communication is not graphically included in the model along 
with cohesion and adaptability. 

Positive communication skills enable couples and 
families to share with each other their changing needs and 
preferences as they relate to cohesion and adaptability. 
Negative communication skills minimize the ability of a 
couple or family members to share their feelings and, 
thereby, restrict their movement on these dimensions. 

The Circumplex Model provides a framework for 
describing types of couples and families. There are four 
levels of cohesion and four levels of adaptability and 
putting them together forms sixteen cells or types of 
families. Once couples or families have been placed into one 

of the sixteen types, it becomes possible to reduce the 

I 

7 sixteen types to three more global types: Balanced, 

Mid-Range, and Extreme. Balanced families are those that 

fall into the two central cells of both cohesion and 
r- adaptability. Mid-range families are those that fall into 

! one of the extreme cells on one dimension and central cell 

on the other dimension. Extreme families are those that fall 
'■•^ into an extreme cell on both dimensions. 

It is important to elaborate on what Olson and 

colleagues imply with their definition of balanced. 

According to Olson and his colleagues (1983) , being balanced 
j means that a family system can experience the extremes on 

the dimension when appropriate but that they do not 



45 
typically function at these extremes for long periods of 
time. Families in the balanced area of the cohesion 
dimension allow family members to experience being both 
independent and connected to their family. Both extremes 
are tolerated and expected, but the family does not 
continually function at the extreme. Conversely, extreme 

i* 

family types tend to function only at the extremes and are 
not encouraged to change the way they function as a family. 
Accordingly, Olson and his associates predict several other 
hypotheses that follow from this model. First, balanced 
family types have a larger behavioral repertoire and are 
more able to change compared with extreme family types. 
This could infer a plausible explanation of why women would 
I remain in abusive relationships, i.e. they cannot find an 

alternative response. Second, to deal with situational 
stress and developmental changes across the life cycle, 
balanced families will change their cohesion and 
adaptability, whereas extreme families will resist change 
over time. This hypothesis deals with change in the family 
system to deal with stress or to accommodate changes in 
family members, particularly as family members alter their 
expectations. The Circumplex Model is dynamic in that it 
assumes that individuals and family systems will change, and 
it hypothesizes that change can be beneficial to the 
maintenance and improvement of family functioning (Olson et 
al. , 1983) . 



i 



I' 



46 

When one family member desires change, the family- 
system must deal with that request. For example, increasing 
numbers of married women want to develop more autonomy from 
their husbands (cohesion dimension) and also want more power 
and equality in their relationships (adaptability 
dimension) . If their husbands are unwilling to understand 
and change in accordance with these expectations, the 
marriages will probably experience increased amounts of 
stress. One can carry this over to the plight of a battered 
woman and can infer that the system could not adequately 
fluctuate to such changes. 

It is also imperative that we link the Circumplex Model 
to what is known about relationships in violent families. 
The rights of individuals in the family unit become blurred, 
and the whole family is considered to be an entity in 
itself. There usually is some ambivalence regarding this 
bonding, with the intimacy being broken at times when an 
individual's needs become strong enough to conflict with the 
survival of the common family unit. Abusive relationships 
within the family may actually add to the cohesiveness . An 
interesting theory of traumatic bonding has been suggested 
by Button (1980) . The familiar sense of shame and guilt 
binds them together, and no one seems able to establish 
psychological independence (Walker, 1981) . 



47 
Family Adaptability and Cohesiveness Evaluation Scales 

To assess a family's degree of cohesiveness and 
adaptability Olson, Bell and Portner (1978) developed the 
Family Adaptability and Cohesiveness Evaluation Scales 
(FACES) . By indicating their degree of agreement with 
statements concerning their family's interactions, a family 
is evaluated on the issues which serve to define the 
dimensions of the model . 

In the first version of the Family Adaptability and 
Cohesion Evaluation Scale, FACES I, (Olson, Sprenkle, & 
Russell, 1979), the two extremes of cohesion were labeled 
enmeshment and disengagement. A curvilinear relationship 
between cohesion and family functioning was hypothesized. 
The hypothesis has been maintained in later versions: FACES 
II (Olson, Portner, & Bell, 1982) and FACES III (Olson, 
Portner, & Lavee, 1985) . According to Green and colleagues 
(Green, Harris, Forte, & Robinson, 1991a) "literally 
hundreds of research projects in the past decade" (p. 55) 
have been based on the various versions of FACES. 

In this study, FACES II is used due to the advantages 
it has over FACES III, the more recent version of FACES. 
These advantages will be discussed in detail in Chapter III. 
FACES II also enables the researcher to account for one's 
ideal expectations for relationships as well as one's 
current perceptions. 



i 



48 
Implications of This Study 

The benefit of representing these scores according to 
the Circumplex model is that a conceptual framework is 
provided in order to assess family system functioning on 
two fundamental dimensions of family organization, cohesion 
and adaptability. Consequently, clinicians can guide their 
treatment planning to strengthen particular components of 
functioning toward clearly specified and realistic 
objectives . 

For those women assessed at either Extreme on the 
dimensions, intervention strategies can be targeted to fit 
their particular pattern of organization and to guide 
change, in a stepwise progression, toward a more Balanced 
system. According to Olson (1983) , a reachable goal for 
cases of severe and chronic dysfunction, would be the 
achievement of higher functioning at the next, adjacent 
pattern, such as a shift from disengaged to separated or 
from enmeshed to connected. A common therapeutic error with 
severe dysfunction is to assume either that patterns are 
unchangeable or that change toward the opposite pattern is 
necessary and desirable. 

Olson (1993) found that severely dysfunctional families 
often assumed such extreme all-or-none positions regarding 
change. They are more likely to alternate between feelings 
of hopelessness that any change can occur and unrealistic 
expectations for goals that are unlikely to be met. 



49 

For example, in families with extremely rigid 
interactional patterns, leadership tends to be 
authoritarian, with one or both parents highly controlling. 
Discipline is typically autocratic, based on a simplistic 
principle of "law and order," and consequences are strict, 
even harsh, without leniency. Negotiations tend to be 
limited, with decisions imposed by parents, often 
arbitrarily, or by applying a single solution to all 
problems regardless of its applicability. Rigid families 
have a very limited repertoire of roles, which are strictly 
defined and inflexible. Rules are unbending and strictly 
enforced. These tendencies prevent the family from making 
adaptive changes when confronted by new circumstances and 
demands . 

Applying the Circumplex Model, we would propose that 
therapy with rigid families target interventions to shift 
their organization to the structured range on the family 
adaptability dimension. Leadership, while still primarily 
authoritarian, would become less controlling and more 
egalitarian. Discipline would become somewhat more 
democratic, with consequences predictable, although still 
seldom lenient. Roles would be stable, with somewhat 
greater flexibility and sharing. Rules would allow for few 
changes and be firmly, yet less strictly, enforced. 

The chief therapeutic task with rigid families is to 
promote the interaction flexibility that is lacking. Tasks 



50 
that facilitate more open communication, negotiated decision 
making, and experimental problem solving can be useful. At 
the same time, it is crucial to maintain stability in the 
family. A common clinical error with extremely rigid 
families is to push for too much change too fast, which 
typically only heightens these families' resistance to 
change . 

In addition, the implications of this study serve to 
reinforce the need to address how women are socialized and 
what their belief systems are regarding sex roles. Social 
psychology theories are helpful in understanding the 
relationship between violence and sex roles (Walker, 1981) . 
Females are socialized into roles that encourage their 
dependence on men. They are taught to be nurturing, 
compliant, and passive. At the same time, they are not 
taught effective responses to men's violence against them. 
Males are socialized into roles that encourage both 
dependence on and aggression toward females. Their role is 
to be intelligent, rational, and strong as well as the 
economic provider for their families. Their promised reward 
is a wife who will take care of their emotional needs and 
accept the expression of their frustrations. The outcome of 
such sex role socialization is reflected in high battering 
statistics (Walker, 1979) . In a study of wife abuse, 
Strauss (1976) concluded that wife abuse is a reflection of 
the cultural norms of our society which legitimize marital 



51 
violence and the sexist organization of both society and the 
family system. Along those same lines, Strauss et al . 
(1980) further suggested that sex role conditioning teaches 
men to express this violent response against their wives. 

Whitehurst (1974) described a clash of ideologies 
between traditional, conservative, patriarchal husbands and 
non-traditional liberal wives as being at the root of 
marital violence. In addition, it has been suggested 
(Gayford, 1975; Roy, 1977) that experiencing child abuse or 
witnessing parental spouse abuse in the family of origin 
predisposes the husband to follow the role model that he 
learned in childhood. Similar experiences may predispose 
the wife to tolerate the abuse that she may have legitimized 
as a normal, expected aspect of married life (Fotjik, 1977- 
1978; Gayford, 1975; Gelles,1974; Roy, 1977). In this study 
50.6% of the women reported violence in their family of 
origin. 

Presented in this review of the related literature was 
a model of family interactions which focuses on two major 
dimensions as methods for classifying families. This model 
specifies both functional and dysfunctional patterns of 
behavior. This study will attempt to demonstrate a 
difference in levels of cohesion and adaptability as they 
relate to current perceptions and ideal expectations for a 
marital relationship. Specifically, this study will provide 
support for the notion that battered women will have 



52 
dysfunctional current relationships as they will fall into 
the Extreme type according to the Circumplex Model . 
Moreover, this study predicts that these current 
relationships will fall into the rigidly-disengaged subtype 
on the model. This would be a family who on the cohesion 
dimension is disengaged, where family members "do their own 
thing, " with limited attachment or commitment to their 
family. A disengaged relationship is one with extreme 
emotional separateness and little involvement among family 
members. There is alot of personal separateness and 
independence. On the adaptability dimension, this would be 
a rigid relationship where one person is highly controlling. 
The roles are strictly defined and the rules do not change. 
An additional hypothesis of this study is that the battered 
woman's ideal ratings will also be dysfunctional, but at the 
opposing end from rigidly-disengaged. Specifically, it is 
predicted that the ideal scores will fall into the very 
flexible-very connected subtype, also referred to as 
"chaotically enmeshed" . This would be a family who on the 
cohesion dimension is enmeshed, there is extreme emotional 
closeness and loyalty is demanded. There is a lack of 
personal separateness and all energy is focused on the 
marital relationship. On the adaptability dimension, this 
would be a family with erratic or limited leadership where 
decisions are impulsive and not well thought out. Roles are 
unclear and often shift . 



CHAPTER III 

METHODOLOGY 
The purpose of this study was to explore a battered 
woman's current perceptions of her relationship as well as 
her ideal expectations for such in regards to levels of 
adaptability and cohesion. The research methodology that 
was used in the investigation is presented in this chapter. 
The research design, hypotheses, participants, 
instrumentation, procedures, data collection, data analysis 
and limitations will be discussed. 

Population and Sample 
Because a definition for battered women has not yet 
been universally agreed upon by researchers and because it 
is difficult to measure the severity of one's abuse, two 
different groups of battered women were included in this 
study. The first population was battered women who were 
staying at the Dade County Women in Distress Shelter (Safe- 
Space) or at the group home (AFTA) . The second population 
of battered women came from both the Broward County women in 
Distress Shelter and their outpatient therapy group. As is 
common with battered women's shelters throughout the United 
States, at times this shelter operates at capacity and 

53 



54 
places women's names on a waiting list for admission. In the 
case of a woman facing imminent potential for severe 
violence, this shelter works with other shelters for 
immediate placement and, via law enforcement or other 
avenues, transports the woman to a distant shelter. 

Battered women came to this shelter following telephone 
contact with the shelter to determine that they meet the 
criteria for admission. The admissions criteria for each 
shelter is the same: the women must have been recently 
battered and be in need of safe shelter without available 
refuge. Battered women are admitted to the shelter any time 
of day or night, any day of the week, depending on when they 
seek assistance. Many women who seek help from the shelter 
have exhausted financial and familial support. 

Many of the women who come to shelters heard about the 
services via an intervening police officer, public service 
advertising, a friend or family, or the advertised battered 
women's hotlines. Referrals to the shelters can come from 
the emergency rooms of the hospitals in the area. In 
addition, other referrals are made by the community crisis 
hotlines, police, clergy, rape crisis programs, women's 
health care clinics, and university and medical communities. 

To be included in this study, the women must have been 
battered and must have completed eight years of schooling 
according to their response on intake forms. The eight years 
of schooling was deemed an appropriate indication of a 



55 
baseline ability to read and understand the instruments. 

Instrumentation 
Family Adaptability and Cohesiveness Evaluation Scales 

FACES II, an acronym for Family Adaptability and 
Cohesion Evaluation Scales, was developed by Olson, Bell and 
Portner (1981) to tap cohesion and adaptability. During the 
initial development of FACES II, 464 adults responded to 90 
items. The average age of the respondents was 3 0.5. The 90 
items covered the 15 content areas of cohesion and 
adaptability with six items per content area, some of which 
were items of the original FACES. On the basis of factor 
analysis and reliability analysis, the initial scale was 
reduced to 50 items. The 50 items of this initial FACES II 
were administered to 2,412 individuals in a national survey 
(Olson et al . , 1983) . On the basis of factor analysis and 
reliability analysis, the 50-item scale was reduced to 30 
items with 2-3 items for each of the 14 content areas. 

The final version of FACES II is a 30-item scale 
containing 16 cohesion items and 14 adaptability items (see 
Appendix E) . There were two items for the following eight 
concepts related to the cohesion dimension: emotional 
bonding, family boundaries, coalitions, time, space, 
friends, decision-making, and interests and recreation. 
There were two or three items for the six concepts related 
to the adaptability dimensions: assert iveness, leadership. 



56 
discipline, negotiations, roles and rules. FACES II 
provides an assessment of how individuals perceive their 
family system and also their ideal descriptions. The scores 
on cohesion and adaptability can be plotted onto the 
Circumplex Model to indicate the type of system they 
perceive and would like ideally. In addition, the 
perceived- ideal discrepancy also provides a measure of 
family satisfaction, which indicates how satisfied 
individuals are with their current family system regardless 
of their family type. 

Ideally, the two dimensions in the Circumplex Model 
should be uncorrelated or orthogonal . Cohesion and 
adaptability in FACES II meets this criteria (r=.25) . In 
addition, the correlation between adaptability and social 
desirability was reduced by the authors to (r=.39) with some 
correlation between social desirability and cohesion 

(r=.38) . The internal reliability and test-retest 
reliability are consistently high (r=.80) . In terms of 
validity, therapists and researchers have evaluated the 
items in terms of face validity and find them to meet 
acceptable criteria (Olson, 1989) . The scales also 
demonstrated that they have discriminate validity in that 
they distinguish between clinical and non-clinical families 

(Olson, 1986) . Further, the scales demonstrated concurrent 
validity. That is, other instruments which measure 
constructs similar to cohesion and adaptability have high 



57 
correlations with FACES II. Hampson, Hulgus and Beavers 
(1991) compared the Dallas Self-Report Family Inventory 
(SFI) with FACES II. They found the correlation between the 
SFI global measure of family health and the cohesion scale 
to be .93 and with the adaptability scale to be . 79 . A 
summary evaluation of FACES II in terms of reliability, 
validity, and clinical utility is provided in Appendix A. 

According to Olson et al . (1979) very low or very high 
scores on the FACES are indicative of a dysfunctional 
family. Moderate scores on FACES are indicative of a 
functional family. Olson and associates also state that the 
adaptability and cohesion dimensions which form the model 
should be independent of each other. 

Several studies have tested the major hypothesis that 
balanced family types are more functional than extreme 
types. Clarke (1984) found a very high level of extreme 
families among neurotic and schizophrenic groups compared to 
the no- therapy group. Conversely, he found a significant 
higher level of balanced families in the no-therapy group 
compared to the other groups . 

Other studies have focused on alcoholic families in 
which the identified patient was the mother or father. Using 
the original Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation 
Scale (FACES) , Olson and Killorin (1984) found significant 
differences between the chemically dependent families and 
the nondependent families. As hypothesized, alcoholic 



58 

families had a significantly higher level of extreme 
families compared to the nondependent families. 

A more recent study by Carnes (1987) that used FACES II 
investigated the family systems in sex offenders and found 
high levels of extreme family types in both their family of 
origin and their current family. 

Comparing 27 high risk families with 35 low risk 
families, Garbarino, Sebes, and Schellenbach (1985) focused 
on the type of family systems using the original FACES 
scale. As hypothesized by the Circumplex Model, they found 
the majority of the low risk families were balanced types 
while the majority of the high risk families were an extreme 
type. 

In addition, a recent study by Rodick, Henggler, and 
Hanson (1986) compared 58 mother-son dyads from father- 
absent families in which half had an adolescent juvenile 
offender and the other half had adolescents with no history 
of arrest or psychiatric referral. The results concluded 
that only 7% of the delinquents were balanced while 93% of 
the delinquent families were mid-range or extreme types. In 
contrast, 69% of the nondelinquent families were balanced 
while 31% were mid-range or extreme. 

In summary, these studies of clinical samples clearly 
demonstrate the discriminant power of the Circumplex Model 
in distinguishing between problem families and 
nonsymptomatic families. There is strong empirical support 



59 

for the hypothesis that balanced types of families are more 
functional than extreme family types. 

Data Collection Procedures 
Data from both groups were collected by either a 
trained, full-time staff person from the shelter or by the 
researcher herself. The investigator met individually with 
each of the selected staff persons to train them in the 
procedures. Training involved the following components: 
1) use of the letter introduction to the subject inviting 
participation, 2) determination that potential subject meets 
criteria for inclusion, 3) obtaining informed consent, 
4) benefits/risks of participation, 5) methods to assure 
confidentiality, 6) instrument and instructions, 
7) answering questions during administration, 8) procedures 
for follow-up contact, and 9) recording of data. The 
investigator monitored the data collection throughout the 
period by contact with the trained personnel and the shelter 
staff, and the review of the data as they were being 
collected. Additionally, personnel collecting the data 
could call the investigator at any time. 

Each woman volunteering to participate in the study was 
given a packet which included an introduction letter, 
instructions for the instrument, the instrument, and a 
demographic questionnaire (see Appendix A) . 

Participants' names were not placed on the instruments 



60 

to ensure confidentiality. Each packet was given a code 
number so as to identify from which group the data was 
obtained. 

FACES II was administered to the participants in this 
study independently and participants completed the scale 
either during the course of their outpatient treatment or 
during their stay at the Broward County Women in Distress 
Shelter or Dade County Women in Distress Shelter. The 
instrument was used in this study to assess family 
adaptability and cohesion --the two independent variables -- 
by ascertaining battered women's perceptions and 
expectations of how their family should function. 

First the individual scores on adaptability and 
cohesion for both the "perceived" (how the respondents feel 
the family is now) and "ideal" (how the respondents would 
like the family to be) were calculated. These scores provide 
us with the individual placements on the Circumplex which we 
then plot to obtain a graphic picture of the family. 

Hypotheses/Data Analysis 
This study posed the following hypotheses: 

1. Battered women's perceptions of their current 
relationships will be extreme according to the Circumplex 
Model . 

2. Battered women's perceptions of their current 
relationships will fall into the rigidly-disengaged subtype. 



51 

3. Battered women's expectations for their ideal 
relationship will be extreme according to the Circumplex 
Model . 

4. Battered women's expectations for their ideal 
relationship will fall into the very connected-very flexible 
(chaotically-enmeshed) subtype. 

5. There will be no significant differences between a 
subject's current score and her ideal score. 

6. There will be no significant differences between the 
Dade and Broward samples . 

The first five hypotheses were tested using chi-square 
analysis. The authors of FACES recommend looking at the 
data on FACES as categorical in nature and therefore argue 
that chi-square is the most appropriate statistic to use 
with this instrument (Olson, et al . , 1979) . The chi-square 
technique was used to evaluate the relative frequencies that 
the FACES II scores of the battered women from both groups 
were placed in the balanced versus extreme ranges on the 
Circumplex Model as well as into which specific subtypes 
they were classified. For purposes of this analysis, the 
balanced typology represented moderate scores on the 
cohesion and adaptability scales, while the chaotically 
disengaged, chaotically enmeshed, rigidly disengaged, and 
rigidly enmeshed typologies constituted extreme scores. 

Hypothesis number six was also analyzed using chi- 
square, but several of the tests were not valid because 



62 

comparing some of the demographics resulted in expected cell 
frequencies that were less than five. Chi-square is not an 
accurate assessment when this is the case. Hypothesis six 
was also analyzed using a t-test, but again this may not 
have been a valid choice as the data was not continuous in 
nature. An alpha level for significance was established at 
.05 as a conventional level of significance. 



CHAPTER IV 
RESULTS 

Sample Characteristics 
The total sample included 79 women. The Broward group 
consisted of 62 women, constituting 78.5% of the total 
sample, while the Dade group consisted of 17 women, who 
constituted the remaining 21.5% of the sample. Women from a 
shelter population comprised 72%, while the remaining 27.8% 
were drawn from an outpatient group in Broward County. 

Age 

A breakdown of the study participants by age and county 
appears in Table 4-1. The sample was predominantly in their 
twenties and thirties (80%) with the mean age being 31.28 
years (SD=7.83). This age profile is quite similar to 
shelter samples from other research (see Appendix B) . A 
more specific breakdown follows: 48% fall within the 21-29 
year age bracket, 24.7% are between 3 and 3 5 years of age, 
11.7% are between 36 and 40 years of age, 9.1% are between 
41 and 45 years of age, and the remaining 6.5% are between 
46 and 48 years of age. A t-test was conducted to determine 
if there were significant differences between the Dade and 

63 



64 
Broward women regarding age and found that the two groups 
did not significantly differ, t=1.17, df=26.49, p=.25. 
Therefore, there were no significant differences regarding 
age between the Dade and Broward women. 

Table 4-1 
Age of Sample 



Broward Dade Total 

Group Group Sample 

n % n % n % 



21-25 19 (30.7) 3 (20) 22 (28.6) 

26-30 10 (16) 8 (53.3) 18 (23.4) 

31-35 14 (22.6) 2 (13.4) 16 (20.8) 

36-40 8 (12.8) 1 (6.7) 9 (11.7) 

41-45 6 (9.6) 1 (6.7) 7 (9.1) 

46-50 5 (8) (0.0) 5 (6.5) 



Race 

The vast majority of the sample was non-white (64.5%), 
which is somewhat common for samples including inner city 
shelters (e.g., Snyder & Fruchtman, 1981; Snyder & Scheer, 
1981; see Appendix C) . More specifically. Black women 
comprised 55.3% of the total sample, Hispanic women made up 



65 
9.2% of the sample and the remaining 35.5% were Caucasian. 
In the Dade sample the breakdown was: 75% Black, 12.5% 
Caucasian, and 12.5% Hispanic. However, in the Broward 
sample. Blacks comprised only 50% of the sample, Hispanics 
8.3% and the remaining 41.7% was Caucasian (see Table 4-2). 
The researcher ran a chi-square analysis to determine if the 
racial differences between the samples were statistically 
significant. This analysis indicated that although looking 
at the data there seemed to be differences regarding race 
between the samples, these differences were not 
statistically significant, x^=4.69, df=2, p=.10. Therefore, 
there are no significant differences regarding race between 
the samples . 

Table 4-2 
Race of Sample 



Broward 
Group 
n (%) 



Dade 
Group 



n 



%) 



Total 
Sample 



n 



(%) 



Black 

Hispanic 

White 



30 (50) 
5 (8.3) 
25 (41.7) 



12 (75) 
2 (12.5) 
2 (12.5) 



42 (55.3) 
7 (9.2) 
27 (35.5) 



66 

EmploYinent 

The majority of the women were employed, 63.6% , while 
the remaining 36.4% were unemployed. Looking at the data, 
there seemed to be differences between the Broward and Dade 
groups with 68.9% of the Broward group being employed while 
only 43.8% of the Dade group reported holding a job (see 
Table 4-3) . To determine if these differences were 
statistically significant, the researcher ran a chi-square 
analysis. This analysis indicated that these differences 
were not statistically significant, x^=2.5, df=l, p= . 11 . 
Therefore, although there appeared to be differences upon 
initial sight of the data, chi-square analysis indicated 
that there are no significant differences regarding 
employment between the two samples . 

Table 4-3 
Employment of Sample 



Broward Dade Total 

Group Group Sample 

n % n % n % 



Employed 42 (68.9) 7 (43.8) 49 (63.6] 

Unemployed 19 (31.1) 9 (56.3) 28 (36.4] 



67 

Education 

Overall, the majority of the women had sought 
postsecondary education with 48.6% having some college 
education. An additional 36.5% of the women went to school 
through 12th grade and the remaining 14.9% had attended 
some high school, but dropped out prior to completion (see 
Table 4-4) . A chi-square analysis to determine if there 
were significant differences regarding education between the 
Dade and Broward women would have produced expected cell 
frequencies of less than five, so such an analysis could not 
be done because it would be likely to produce inaccurate 
results . 

In an effort to avoid expected cell frequencies of five 
or less, this researcher collapsed the original variable of 
education, consisting of six discrete categories, into a new 
variable, consisting of two categories: 1) participants with 
college experience and 2) participants with a high-school 
diploma or less. This chi-square analysis showed that there 
were no significant differences between the Dade and Broward 
women regarding education, x^=-17, df=l, p=.68. 



Table 4-4 



Education of Sample 



68 



Grade 
Completed 



Broward 
Group 
n % 



Dade 
Group 
n % 



Total 
Sample 
n % 



07 
09 

10 
11 
12 
Some College 



1 (1.7) 
4 (6.8) 
3 (5.1) 

2 (3.4) 
22 (37.3) 
27 (45.8) 






(0.0) 





(0.0) 


1 


(6.7) 





(0.0) 


5 


(33.3) 


9 


(60.0) 



1 (1.4) 
4 (5.4) 
4 (5.4) 

2 (2.7) 
27 (36.5) 
36 (48.6) 



Children 

The participants' numbers of children are categorized 
in Table 4-5. The average number of children for the total 
sample was 1.83 (SD=1.25) . Two women had 6 children, Four 
women had 4 children, Fourteen women had 3 children and 5 8 
women had one or two . Only one woman reported having no 
children. A t-test was conducted to determine if there were 
significant differences between the Dade and Broward women 
reagrding the number of children participants had and found 
that the groups did not signif icnatly differ in this reagrd, 
t=.28, df=22, p=.78. 



Table 4-5 

Number of Children 



69 



Broward 
Group 
n % 



Dade 
Group 
n ^ 



Total 
Sample 
n '-. 




1 
2 
3 

4 
6 



5 


(8.1) 


23 


(37.1) 


18 


(29.0) 


12 


(19.4) 


2 


(3.2) 


2 


(3.2) 



4 


(25.0) 


2 


(12.5) 


6 


(37.5) 


2 


(12.5) 


2 


(12.5) 





(0.0) 



9 


(11.5) 


25 


(32.1) 


24 


(30.8) 


14 


(17.9) 


4 


(5.1) 


2 


(2.6) 



Income 

The majority of the women (51.6%) reported an average 
annual income of below $15,000. Twenty-eight point one 
percent of the women reported an income of between $15,000 
and $30,000 and the remaining 20.3% of the women reported an 
income of over $30,000. There were also differences between 
groups, with 64% of the Dade group earning under $5,000 
while only 16% of the Broward group fell into this range. 
Contrastingly, 44% of the Broward group were making over 
$20,000 while only 14.3% of the Dade group were in this 



70 

range. In terms of the womens' personal contribution to 
this income, 64.6% contributed to less than half of their 
family's income while 35.4 contributed over half (see Table 
4-6) . A chi-square analysis to determine if there were 
significant differences regarding income between the Dade 
and Broward women would have produced expected cell 
frequencies of less than five, so such an analysis could not 
be done because it would be likely to produce inaccurate 
results . 

In an effort to avoid expected cell frequencies of 
five or less, this researcher collapsed the original 
variable of income, consisting of seven discrete categories, 
into a new variable, consisting of two categories: 1) 
participants with an income of $5,000 or less and 2) 
participants with an income of more than $5,000. However, 
this chi-square analysis would also have produced expected 
cell frequencies that were less than five, so such an 
analysis could not be done because it would be likely to 
produce inaccurate results. 



Table 4-6 
Income of Sample 



71 



Broward 
Group 
n % 



Dade 
Group 
n % 



Total 
Sample 
n % 



$5,000 or less 8 (16.0) 

$5,001-$10,000 3 (6.0) 

$10, 001-$15, 000 11 (22.0) 

$15,001-$20,000 6 (12.0) 

$20,001-$25,000 7 (14.0) 

$25,001-$30, 000 4 (8.0) 

$30,001 and up 11 (22.0) 



9 (64.3: 

2 (14.3: 

(0.0) 

1 (7.1) 
(0.0) 
(0.0) 

2 (14.3: 



17 (26.6) 

5 (7.8) 

11 (17.2) 

7 (10.9) 

7 (10.9) 

4 (6.3) 

13 (20.3) 



Characteristics of Abuse 

The women responded to various questions about the 
abuse they had suffered. Regarding how long the women were 
in their last abusive relationship: 15.8% had been in the 
relationship less than a year, another 15.8% had been in the 
relationship between 1 and 2 years, 3 9.5% had been in the 
relationship between 2.1 and 5 years, 6.6% had been in the 
relationship between 5.1 and 7 years, and 22.4% had been in 
for more than 7 years (see Table 4-7) . A chi- square 



72 

analysis to determine if there were significant differences 
regarding length in the past abusive relationship between 
the Dade and Broward women would have produced expected cell 
frequencies of less than five, so such an analysis could not 
be done because it would be likely to produce inaccurate 
results . 

In an effort to avoid expected cell frequencies of five 
or less, this researcher collapsed the original variable of 
length of time in the past abusive relationship, consisting 
of five discrete categories, into a new variable, consisting 
of two categories: 1) participants who were in this 
relationship for two years or less and 2) participants in 
this relationship for more than two years. This chi-square 
analysis showed that there were no significant differences 
between the Dade and Browrad women regarding the length of 
time in the last abusive relationship, x^=-63, df=l, p=.43. 

The women also reported how many different occasions 
they had been struck by their partner and the responses were 
the following: 44.2% had been struck 1 to 5 times, 13% were 
between 6 and 10, 7.8% were between 11 and 15, 5.2% were 
between 16 and 20, and 29.9% had been struck greater than 20 
times (see Table 4-8) . A chi-square analysis to determine 
if there were significant differences in this regard would 
have produced expected cell frequencies of less than five, 
so such an analysis could not be done because it would be 
likely to produce inaccurate results. 



73 

In an effort to avoid expected cell frequencies of five 
or less, this researcher collapsed the original variable of 
the number of times particpants were struck by their 
partner, consisting of five discrete categories, into a new 
variable, consisting of two categories: 1) participants who 
were struck by their mate between one and five times and 2) 
participants who were struck by their mate six or more 
times. This chi-square analysis showed that there were no 
significant differences between the Dade and Browrad women 
regarding the number of times they were struck by their 
mates, x'=l-01/ df=l, p=.32. 



Table 4-7 
Lencfth of Abuse 



Broward 
Group 
n % 



Dade 
Group 

n 1 



Total 
Sample 



n 



< 


1 year 


9 


(14.5) 


3 


(21.4) 


12 


(15.8) 


1- 


-2 years 


8 


(12.9) 


4 


(28.6) 


12 


(15.8) 


2 


1-5 years 


27 


(43.5) 


3 


(21.4) 


30 


(39.5) 


5 


1-7 years 


5 


(8.1) 





(0.0) 


5 


(6.6) 


7 


1 or more 


13 


(21.0) 


4 


(28.6) 


17 


(22.4) 



74 



Table 4-8 

Frequency of Violence 























Broward 


Dade 


Total 


# of times 


Group 


Group 


Sample 


struck 




n 


% 


n 


%■ 


n 


% 


1-5 




29 


(47.5) 


5 


(31.3) 


34 


(44.2) 


6-10 




7 


(11.5) 


3 


(18.8) 


10 


(13.0) 


11-15 




2 


(3.3) 


4 


(25.0) 


6 


(7.8) 


16-20 




4 


(6.6) 





(0.0) 


4 


(5.2) 


> than 


20 


19 


(31.1) 


4 


(25.0) 


23 


(29.9) 



Information concerning when this abusive relationship 
had ended, or if it had ended provided the following 
results: 7.8% reported that the abuse was still ongoing, 
68.8% of the women reported the relationship ending less 
than a year ago, 14.3% were between 1 and 3 years, and 9.1% 
were more than 3 years (see Table 4-9) . The researcher ran 
a chi-square analysis to determine if there were significant 
differences in regards to when the abuse had ended between 
the Dade and Broward women. This analysis indicated that 
there were no significant differences between the groups, 
X^=4.02, df=3, p=.26. Therefore, there were no significant 
differences between the Dade and Broward samples in their 



75 

responses to questions concerning when or if the abuse had 
ended. 

Table 4-9 

When Abuse Ended 



Broward 
Group 



n 



Dade 
Group 

n % 



Total 
Sample 
n % 



< 1 year 
1-3 years 
> 3 years 
Still Ongoing 



40 (64.5) 

9 (14.5) 

7 (11.3) 

6 (9.7) 



13 (86.7: 

2 (13.3! 

(0.0) 

(0.0) 



53 (68.8) 

7 (11.3) 

7 (9.1) 

6 (7.8) 



Information concerning how many abusive relationships 
these women had been in prior to this one found that for the 
majority of this sample (56.6%), this was their first 
abusive relationship. The average number of prior abusive 
relationships for the total sample was .82 (SD=1.51) . 
Another 3 8.1% of the sample had been in one or two before, 
one subject had been in 4, two participants had been in 6, 
and one subject reported having been in 9 in the past (see 
Table 4-10) . A t-test was conducted to determine if there 
were significant differences between the Dade and Broward 



76 

women regarding the number of past abusive relationships 
participants had endured. This analysis showed that there 
were no significant differences between the Dade and Broward 
women, t=1.26, df=74, p=.21. 

The final question concerned whether or not there was 
abuse in their family of origin. This seemed to be an even 
split as 50.6% reported there was some kind of abuse in 
their family of origin and the remaining 49.4% reported 
none. To determine if there were significant differences 
between the Dade and Broward women, chi- square analysis was 
run. This analysis indicated that there were no significant 
differences between the Dade and Broward women regarding 
abuse in thier family of origin, x^=-01, df=l, p=.96. 
Table 4-10 
Past Abusive Relationships 



Broward 
# of past Group 
relationships n % 



Dade 
Group 



n 



Total 
Sample 
n % 



none 

1 

2 

4 

6 



34 (54.8) 

16 (25.8) 

8 (12.9) 

1 (1.6) 

2 (3.2) 
1 (1.6) 



9 
5 



(64.3) 
(35.7) 



(0.0) 

(0.0) 

(0.0) 

(0.0) 



43 (56.6) 

21 (27.6) 

8 (10.5) 

1 (1.3) 

2 (2.6) 
1 (1.3) 



77 

Analysis of Hypotheses One Through Six 
The first hypothesis was that there would be no 
significant difference in the family type scores of the 
battered women. The obtained ;r/=89.65, df=2, was 

significant, p<.0001 (see Table 4-11). Therefore, regarding 
their current relationship perceptions, a significant number 
of battered women are falling into the extreme family type. 

Table 4-11 

Observed and Expected Frequencies of Individual Participants 
Falling In Each of Three Possible Family Types 

Extreme Mid-Range Balanced 



Expected 26.33 26.33 26.33 

Observed 66 7 6 

Residual 39.67 -19.33 -20.33 



The first condition of the second hypothesis was that 
on the cohesion dimension, their current relationships would 
be categorized as disengaged at a better than chance 
frequency. Chi-square analysis indicated that the results 
were statistically significant, i ''=76.66, df = 2, p<.0001 (see 

Table 4-12) . Therefore, women are classified as disengaged 
on the cohesion dimension more often than would be expected 
by chance . 



78 

Table 4-12 

Observed and Expected Frequencies of Individual Participants 
Falling Into Each of Three Possible Cohesion Categorizations 



Disengaged Separated Enmeshed 



Expected 26.33 26.33 26.33 

Observed 63 9 7 

Residual 36.67 -17.33 -19.33 



The second condition of this hypothesis was that on the 
adaptability dimension, their current relationships would be 
categorized as rigid at a better than chance frequency. 
Chi-square analysis indicated that the results were 
statistically significant, x~=177.46, df=3, p<.0001 (see 

Table 4-13) . Therefore, women are classified as rigid on 
the adaptability dimension more often than would be expected 
by chance . 

Table 4-13 

Observed and Expected Frequencies of Individual Participants 
Falling Into Each of Four Possible Adaptability 
Categorizations 

Rigid Structured Flexible Chaotic 



Expected 


19 


75 


19. 


75 


19. 


75 


19 . 


75 


Observed 


71 




2 




4 




2 




Residual 


51 


25 


-17 


.75 


-15 


.75 


-17 


.75 



79 

The main point of the second hypothesis was that 
participants' current perceptions of their relationship 
could be categorized as rigidly-disengaged at a better than 
chance frequency. Chi-square analysis indicated that the 
results were statistically significant, x^=23.41, df=l, 

p<.0001 (see Table 4-14). Therefore, battered women's 
scores placed them in the rigidly-disengaged subtype more 
often than would be expected. 

Table 4-14 

Observed and Expected Frequencies of Individual Participants 
Falling Into Each of 16 Possible Combinations 



Rigidly-Disengaged All Other Combinations 



Expected 39.50 39.50 

Observed 61 18 

Residual 21.50 -21.50 



The third hypothesis was that battered women's 
expectations for their ideal relationship could be 
categorized as Extreme at a better than chance frequency. 
Chi-square analysis indicated that the results were 
statistically significant, :r'=43.85, df = 2, p<.0001 (see 

Table 4-15) . However, looking at the residuals between the 
observed and expected revealed that fewer individuals were 
falling into the extreme family type than what this 



80 

researcher had expected to find. The category that actually- 
contributed most to the overall significant chi-square was 
the balanced family type. Therefore, this hypothesis was 
not supported. 

Table 4-16 

Observed and Expected Frequencies of Individual Participants 
Falling Into Each of Three Possible Family Types 

Extreme Mid-Range Balanced 



Expected 26.33 26.33 26.33 
Observed 25 3 51 

Residual -1.33 -23.33 24.67 



The first condition of the fourth hypothesis was that 
on the cohesion dimension, their ideal expectations would be 
categorized as enmeshed at a better than chance frequency. 
Chi-square analysis indicated that the results were 
statistically significant, x^=23.03, df =3 , p<.0001 (see 

Table 4-16) . However, looking at the residuals between the 
observed and expected revealed that fewer individuals were 
falling into the enmeshed category than what this researcher 
had expected to find. The category that actually 
contributed most to the overall significant chi-square was 
the separated category. Therefore, this aspect of the 
fourth hypothesis was not supported. 



81 



Table 4-: 
Observed 


L6 
and Expected 


Freauencies 


of 


Individual 


Participants 


Fallinq " 


rnto Each of 


Four Possible 


Cohesion Cat 


sgorizations 






Disengaged 


Separated 




Connected 


Enmeshed 


Expected 
Observed 
Residual 


19.75 

27 

7.25 


19.75 

2 
-17.75 




19.75 

29 

9.25 


19.75 

21 

1.25 



The second condition of the fourth hypothesis was that 
on the adaptability dimension, participants' ideal 
expectations would be categorized as chaotic at a better 
than chance frequency. Chi -square analysis indicatd that the 
results were statistically significant, %''=55.33, df = 3, 

p<.0001 (see Table 4-17). Therefore, women's ideal 
expectations along the adaptability dimension were 
categorized as chaotic at a better than chance frequency. 

Table 4-17 

Observed and Expected Frequencies of Individual Participants 
Fallinq Into Each of Four Possible Adaptability 
Categorizations 



Rigid Structured Flexible Chaotic 



Expected 


19 


.75 


19. 


75 


19. 


75 


19 


75 


Observed 


24 




4 




6 




45 




Residual 


4. 


26 


-15 


.75 


-13 


.75 


25 


25 



82 

The main point of the fourth hypothesis was that 
participants' ideal expectations for a marital relationship 
would fall into the chaotically-enmeshed subtype on the 
Circumplex Model at a better than chance frequency. Chi- 
square analysis indicated that the results were not 
statistically significant, :('=4.35, df = 2, p< . 12 (see Table 
4-18) . These data do not support the fourth hypothesis. 



Table 4-: 
Observed 


L8 
and Expected Freauencies of Indivi 


dual 


Participants 


Falling : 


Ento Each of 16 


Different Combinations 


















Chaotically- 
Enmeshed 




Rigidly- 
Disengaged 




All 
Others 


Expected 
Observed 
Residual 


26.33 

21 

-3.33 




26.33 

23 

-5.33 




26.33 

35 

8.67 



The fifth hypothesis was that there would be no 
significant differences between participants' scores on 
their current perceptions and those for their ideal 
expectations. Olson and associates (1979) argued that one 
way to look at a person's satisfaction in her current 
relationship is to look at the discrepancy between these two 
scores. If the discrepancy is small, one may conclude that 
the person is satisfied with the state of his or her current 
relationship. A chi-square contingency test was attempted, 
but 7 out of the 9 cells did not have enough observations to 



83 

effectively use this test. However, what is worth noting is 
that 64 participants were categorized as Extreme on both 
their current and ideal scores. 

The final hypothesis was that there would be no 
significant differences in scores on FACES II between the 
Broward and Dade groups. A t-test was conducted and found 
that on the current perception responses, the two groups did 
not significantly differ, t=-.78, df=21.62, p<.444. 
Additionally, a chi-square analysis was conducted and also 
indicated that the two groups did not significantly differ, 
X''=2.09, df=3, p<.55. However, in looking at responses to 

the ideal, it was found that there were significant 
differences between groups with the mean for the Broward 
group exceeding the mean for the Dade group, t=3.48, 
df=23.71, p<.002. Additionally, chi-square analysis was 
significant %"=11.87, df=2, p<003. Therefore, it can be 

concluded that scores for this version were significantly 
different between the groups. However, overall significant 
differences were found, as stated in prior hypotheses, 
despite the differences between the samples. 

Summary of Findings 
Maintaining the predictions, the participants' current 
perceptions were categorized as Extreme at a better than 
chance frequency. Further, these perceptions fell into the 



84 
rigidly-disengaged subtype at a better than chance 
frequency, as predicted. However, contrasting the initial 
predictions, the women's ideal expectations were not 
categorized as Extreme and accordingly, did not fall into 
the chaotically-enmeshed subtype at a better than chance 
frequency. In terms of the participants' satisfaction with 
their relationship, measured by the discrepancy between 
their current and ideal scores, conclusions cannot safely 
be drawn as the conditions of the anlysis were violated. 
There were no significant differences found between the Dade 
and Broward women on the demographic variables . 
Additionally, there were no significnat differences found on 
the scores for their current perceptions. However, 
differences were found on the scores for their ideal 
expectations. These findings will be discussed in greater 
detail in Chapter five. 



CHAPTER IV 
DISCUSSION 

Discussion of Results 

The first prediction in this study was that battered 
women's perceptions of their current relationships would be 
extreme according to the Circumplex Model . The data clearly 
supported this hypothesis. This particular finding is not 
surprising when one considers the state of a battering 
relationship. An extreme classification, as was described 
earlier, is a natural result of a relationship characterized 
with dysfunction and a lack of balance with regard to 
cohesion and adaptability. Olson and his associates (1979) 
have stated that extreme relationships are often problematic 
for their members. 

The second prediction was that subjects' current 
perceptions would be categorized as rigidly-disengaged. The 
data clearly supported this hypothesis. A rigidly- 
disengaged relationship is one in which there is extreme 
emotional separateness . Members often "do their own thing" 
and have separate interests. One person in the relationship 
is highly controlling and the roles are strictly defined so 
that rules never change. To illustrate the rigidly- 

85 



86 
disengaged relationship for this population, we need to 
describe its meaning in relational terms. As just stated, 
the rigid rules are usually clear to both parties. 
According to Walker, both the women and the men engage in 
manipulation of each other and of others who impinge on 
their relationships. The women assume responsibility for 
keeping the environment stress free, so as not to upset 
their batterer, while the batterer works on controlling the 
woman (Walker, 1981) . The batterer needs to feel he has 
power over her so he uses possessive behavior and demands to 
know everything she thinks about and does . Batterers do not 
trust their women to make independent decisions and 
judgements . 

The clinical issues one deals with when working with 
battered women include, but are not limited to the 
following: low self-esteem, denial, manipulation, passivity, 
and lack of body integration (Walker, 1981) . Further, for 
these women, their negative self images are further 
reinforced by the sex role stereotypes that create 
expectations of how they should perform the role of wife. 
If a woman cannot live up to all the unrealistic, rigid 
traditions, she is more likely to accept the batterer's 
accusations and his distortions of her failures. Cognitive 
restructuring to broaden perceived choices is needed. 

The third hypothesis was that participants' 
expectations for their ideal relationships would be 



87 
classified as extreme, according to the Circumplex Model. 
The data did not support this hypothesis, but found that the 
majority of participants fell into the balanced category. 
This finding is enlightening because it indicates that 
participants do desire a healthy relationship. It would 
seem apparent from these findings that these women are not 
satisfied in their current relationship and do desire a 
change. This finding makes sense when one considers that 
the majority of this sample came from a shelter where women 
go when they have made a choice to leave their partner. 
Moving to a shelter is one indication that they are 
unsatisfied with the state of their current relationships. 
Similarly, it can be expected that the women from the out- 
patient group are also unsatisfied as they, too, are seeking 
help. One could speculate that perhaps at this point, these 
women are unsure about how to produce any further change, 
what kinds of relationships to seek out and how to maintain 
the dimensions of cohesion and adaptability at a healthy 
state of functioning. Again, the need to explore and 
restructure their cognitive framework becomes apparent. 
The fourth prediction was that participants' ideal 
expectations could be categorized as chaotically-enmeshed at 
a better- than-chance frequency. The data did not support 
this hypothesis. However, when each dimension was examined 
separately, the data did support the idea that a significant 
proportion of the participants were classified as chaotic on 



the adaptability dimension. A chaotic relationship has 
erratic or limited leadership. Decisions are usually 
impulsive and poorly thought out. Roles are unclear and 
often shift from person to person. This depiction opposes 
the traditional description of a battering relationship. In 
comparing these scores with those for participants' current 
perceptions, it seems that these women do desire change on 
this dimension, but that the desired change is in such 
opposition to the current relationship that they are at the 
opposite extreme, i.e. they have moved from a classification 
of chaotic to a classification of rigid. As stated 
previously, extreme relationships are problematic for their 
members. It is important to broaden women's perceived 
choices to aid them in arriving at some middle ground. 
In addition to this finding for the adaptability 
dimension, a significant proportion of the participants fell 
on the high end of the cohesion scale. When cohesion levels 
are high, there is too much consensus in the relationship 
and too little independence (Olson, 1989) . Although a 
significant number of the women were not categorized as 
"enmeshed", the majority of the women fell towards the 
higher end of the connected category. This again 
illustrates that the women do desire change from their 
current relationship, but are perhaps too extreme in the 
amount of change they desire. It is important to eductae 
these women on what would be considered "healthy" 



89 
functioning so as to help them move towards the "balanced" 
category. 

The fifth prediction was that there would be no 
significant differences between both the current and ideal 
scores. A chi-square contingency test was run, but 7 out of 
the 9 cells did not have enough observations to effectively 
use this test. The authors of the Circumplex Model have 
professed that the difference between these scores is a 
measure of one's satisfaction with their current 
relationship. Accordingly, no significant difference would 
imply satisfaction with the current state of the 
relationship. As previously discussed, I do not think this 
is the case. Moreover, the data from the fourth prediction 
seem to indicate that the classification of the subtype 
would not be categorized as rigidly disengaged as it was 
with their current perceptions. Additionally, their ideal 
scores were categorized as balanced, where as their current 
scores were categorized as extreme. Therefore, one could 
infer that the participants do desire change and are clear 
about what kinds of changes, but on at least one of the 
dimensions, they are too extreme in the amount of change 
they seek. 

These findings also appear to be consistent with the 
published research. The study of Claerhout, Elder, and 
Janes (1982) supported the research of Walker (1979) , 
Hilberman (1977) and Greely (1978) which suggested that 



90 
battered women do not typically perceive alternative ways of 
responding in a battering situation. Claerhout and 
colleagues also concluded that battered women were far less 
likely to generate effective response alternatives and more 
likely to produce avoidant and dependent ineffective 
alternatives than were the nonbattered participants. This 
again illustrates the importance of expanded their realm of 
thinking both in terms of sex roles and problem solving. 

The final prediction was that there would be no 
significant differences between the Dade and Broward women 
with regard to their scores on FACES II. Both the t-test 
and chi- square analysis found that there were no significant 
differences on particpant's current scores. However, both a 
t-test and chi-square analysis did find that there were 
significant differences on their ideal scores. This 
researcher feels that this finding should be interpreted 
with caution as neither of these tests were ideal choices 
for this analysis. A t-test should be used with interval or 
continuous data, not categorical data. And although the 
chi-square analysis is appropriate for categorical data, 
there were too many cells with expected frequencies that 
were less than five so this analysis is likely to produce 
inaccurate results. Additionally, the analyses for the 
demographic data repeatedly found that there were no 
significant differences between the Dade and Broward women. 
This researcher believes that there are no significant 



91 
differences between the groups, but she could not conclude 
this with certainty, because of mixed statistical results. 

Limitations of the Study and Future Suggestions 
There are several drawbacks in the design of the 
present study that need to be taken into account when 
discussing the results and their implications. First, all 
the women in the sample were volunteers who were comfortable 
sharing their battering experience. Most important of all 
is the fact that they have taken a major step to leave the 
abusive situation, were ready to reassess their past 
experience, and were willing to explore alternatives and 
make some changes in their current lives. Therefore, one 
may speculate that this group of battered women is likely to 
be different from battered women who are still living with 
their abusive mates. An even better design to test the 
perceptions and expectations of battered women would be to 
test those that come to a shelter, as well as battered women 
who are still living with their abusive partners. 
Therefore, it should be stressed that this study is 
exploratory in nature and that the findings may be specific 
to this particular group of women. 

An additional area of concern is that these scores 
reflect only one member of the family's perception of family 
functioning. It has been shown that members often do not 
agree with each other in describing their family system 



92 
(Olson, et al . , 1989) . However, the nature of this study 
was to explore the perceptions and expectations of the 
battered women and the researcher was not necessarily 
interested in her partner's perceptions and expectations. 
Perhaps future studies could measure these and search for 
similarities and discrepancies in an effort to find where 
these occur and if any patterns exist. 

Although there are some limitations to this study in 
addition to the restrictions on generalizability imposed by 
non-random samples, their contribution to our understanding 
of wife abuse should not be ignored. As Pagelow (1981) has 
suggested, "Each case study may contribute additional 
insight into the problem. The additive effect of many 
select samples may be the best means to knowledge-building, 
provided limitations applicable to each are kept in mind 
when drawing conclusions" (p. #237). 

In an effort to better utilize the results of this 
study, norms derived from other major studies in the field 
were used as a basis for comparison. By comparing the 
results of the current study to normative data, a more 
comprehensive profile of the battered woman will be 
obtained. 



93 
Discussion of Demographics 
Race 

The sample in the current study apparently over- 
represents black and other minority women in the battered 
women group. One should not prematurely infer that wife 
abuse is more prevalent among ethnic and racial minorities 
for several reasons. First, many Caucasian women are 
excluded from the shelter population because they tend to 
have alternative resources that enable them to avoid going 
to a shelter. And, second, the shelters that the sample of 
battered women in this study were drawn from are located in 
predominately black areas in both the Dade and Broward 
Counties . 

Previous research findings on the racial composition of 
the samples studied reveal an ambiguous picture. Some 
studies show that the racial/ethnic composition of their 
samples tend to be representative of the racial distribution 
of the population where the study was conducted (Carlson, 
1977; Star, 1978) . Other studies have suggested that wife 
abuse is highest among blacks (Stark & McEvoy, 1970; Strauss 
et al. , 1981) . 

Strauss et al . (1981) proposed that the stress, 
discrimination, and frustration that minorities encounter 
and the fact that minorities are still disenfranchised from 
many advantages enjoyed by majority group members can lead 
to higher rates of violence toward women. They argue that 



94 
minority men use violence against their partners to 
compensate for the state of powerlessness they experience in 
society at large. It seems as if the home functions as the 
only domain where they can assert their power and dominance 
and can live up to the culturally-prescribed "macho image" 
of man, which encourages the use of physical aggression. 

Education 

The educational attainment of battered women in this 
study seems to be consistent with the findings of Carlson 
(1977) and Hofeller (1982) , with the tendency to have fewer 
women at the lowest level (grade school) and at the highest 
level of education (graduate school) . In addition, it was 
helpful to compare the results of the present sample with 
Pagelow's (1981) findings, which were derived from a large 
sample of 347 battered women in shelter settings. 

Pagelow closely examined the similarity and discrepancy 
between the educational attainment of battered women in her 
survey sample and national statistics on the educational 
level of wives in the United States of America. The 
education of women in Pagelow' s sample, in the current 
study, and national statistics is presented in Table 2 . 

The comparison reveals that battered women in both 
samples are not as undereducated as women in the national 
sample at the lowest category, grade school. In contrast to 
national-sample women, battered women had a greater tendency 



95 
tend to dropout from high school and college. Fewer women 
in the current sample graduated from high school . At the 
upper levels of education, battered women in this sample 
differed from the other two samples in that fewer women 
graduated from college. 

The findings of this study are consistent with Strauss 
et al . ' s (1980) survey results, which challenge the common 
view that family violence occurs predominately among the 
least educated families. On the contrary, results of the 
present study indicated that a large percentage of the 
sample was college educated. 

Strauss et al . (1980) suggested an explanation for the 
complex relationship between violence and education in terms 
of a person's relative, rather than absolute, educational 
attainment. They argued that it is more stressful to an 
individual to have a moderate education than to have little 
education. People with average education, for example high 
school diplomas, may feel cut off from the high status, 
well -paying professional jobs. Therefore, the moderately 
educated worker may experience more stress and frustration 
than the uneducated worker. It would be interesting to 
study the relationship between dropout and violence. In the 
current study there is no available information regarding 
the factors that contributed to making the decision to drop 
out of college or high-school. It is also not clear whether 
people dropped out before or after they were involved with 



96 
their abusive partners. 

Income 

Results of this study do not support the Strauss et al . 
(1980) finding regarding the relationship between violence 
and family income. They found that families living at or 
below the poverty line (under $5,999) had a rate of violence 
between husbands and wives that was 500% greater than the 
rate of spousal violence in the most well-to-do families 
(incomes over $20,000) . In contrast to the Strauss et al . 
results, this study did not find any significant differences 
between women at the lower and upper levels of the 
continuum. 

Data from this study suggest that income does not play 
a significant role in identifying victims of violence. 
These results challenge the conventional thinking that 
violence is confined to poor families. Battered women in 
this study were distributed among the various income 
brackets. Some earned wages that were below poverty line, 
and others earned more than $20,000 a year. 

ConcludincT Remarks 
Prior studies have clearly demonstrated the 
discriminant power of FACES and the Circumplex Model in 
distinguishing between problem families and nonsymptomatic 
families. There has been strong empirical support for the 



97 
hypothesis that balanced families are more functional than 
extreme family types. In previous reserach, there has been 
a lack of evidence that any of these symptoms are 
specifically linked with a specific type of family system, 
for example, rigidly disengaged. This was the hope of early 
family research linking family symptoms (a schizophrenic 
offspring) and family systems (Olson, 1986) . In this study, 
it was found that these women could be linked to a specific 
type of family system and it is the hope of this researcher 
that others will continue along this course. 

In summary, wife abuse is such a multidimensional 
phenomenon that treatment necessitates taking into account 
many more factors than perceptions and expectations of 
relationships. I agree with Pressman (1989) who argues for 
an integrated treatment approach that takes into account 
cultural factors, the influence of early learning and life 
experiences, the nature and management of trauma, the types 
of alignments and boundaries that develop in the unit, as 
well as the interactional patterns between the couple. 



APPENDIX A 
EVALUATION OF FACES II 



Evaluation of FACES II 



Theoretical Domain and Model 



Assessment Level 



Family Systems 
Circumplex Model 

Family as whole 



Focus of Assessment 
Number of Scales and Items 

Norms 

Normative Sample 



Clinical 

Reliability 

Internal Consistency 



Test Retest 

Validity 

Face Validity 

Content Validity 

Correlation between Scales 



Perceived, Ideal; 
Satisfaction 

2 Scales; 3 items 
total; 16 cohesion 
items; 14 
adaptability items 

n = 2453 adults 

n =412 adolescents 

Several types of 
problem families 

Very good evidence 
Cohesion (r = .87) 

Adaptability (r = 
.78) 

Total (r = .68) 

FACES II (4-5 weeks) 
r = .83 for cohesion 
r=.80 for 
adaptability 

Very good evidence 

Very good evidence 



Cohesion & 
Adaptability 
(r = .25- .65) 



99 



100 
Correlation with SD & Adaptability 

Social Desirability (r = .38) 

SD & Cohesion (r = 
.39) 

Concurrent Validity Good evidence 

(linear 
relationship) 

Clinical Utility 

Usefulness of Self Report Scale 

Very good evidence 
Ease of Scoring Easy 

Clinical Rating Scale Yes 



APPENDIX B 
COMPARISON STUDIES ON EDUCATION 



Education of Current Women Compared With Pagelow' s 
Sample and National Statistics 



Response 
Category- 


Sample 
Women 
% 


Pagelow' s 
Sample 

o, 
o 


National 
Women 
% 


Grade School 


1.4 


5.2 


13.0 


High school 
attended 


13.5 


25.4 


16.0 


High school 
graduate 


36.5 


34.6 


45 . 


College attended 


48.6 


26.2 


14.0 


Graduate School 





2.3 


4.0 



102 



APPENDIX C 
COMPARISON STUDIES ON DEMOGRAPHICS 



Comparison Demographics from Other Battered Women Studies 



Characteristic 


Okun 
Studv- 198 6 


Pagelow & 
Studv- 19 81 


Snyder 
Fruchtman 
Studv- 1981 


N 


300 


350 


89 


Shelter 
Sample 


100% 


90.6% 


100% 


Location 


Michigan 


California Detroit 
& Florida 


Mean Age 


27.7 


29.9 


29.2 


Age Range 


16-55 


17-68 


17-58 


Average Number 
of Children 


1.84 




2.3 


White 


237 (79%) 


271 (78% 


) 30(34%) 


Nonwhite 


63 (21%) 


77 (22%) 


59 (66%) 



104 



105 



Snyder Stacey & Star 

& Scheer Shupe et al . Walker 

Study- 1981 Study- 1983 Study- 1979 Study-1984 





74 


538 


57 


403 


100% 


100% 


80% 





Detroit 


Texas 


Florida 


Colorado & 

Surrounding 

Region 


30.0 




32.0 


32.2 






17-54 


18-59 
2.02 


27 (36%) 


343 (64%) 


40 [10% 


r) 321(86%) 


47 (64%) 


195 (36%) 


17 (30^ 


r) 51(14%) 



APPENDIX D 
DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE 



Department of Psychology 
PO Box 112250 
Gainesville, FL 32611 
(904) 392-0601 
Fax: (904) 392-7985 



DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE 

Please respond to all of the questions by indicating 
the appropriate response in the spaces provided. 

1 . Age 2 . Race 

3 . Occupation 4 . Education 

5. Do you have children? 6. If yes, how many? 

7. How much income (annually) did your family have? 

8. What amount did you contribute to this income? 

9. How long have you been/were you in this abusive 
relationship? 

10. On how many different occasions were you struck by 
your partner? 

Please check: 1-5 6-10 11-15 

16-20 Greater than 20 

11. How long ago did this relationship end? 

12. Have you been in any abusive relationships prior to 
this one? If yes, how many? 

13 . Was there physical abuse in your family of origin 

(i.e. father hit mother or parents hit you, etc.) 

14. If there was, what kind of abuse? 



107 



APPENDIX E 

FAMILY ADAPTABILITY AND COHESIVENESS 

EVALUATION SCALES 



FACES II: Couples Version 

David H. Olson, Joyce Portner & Richard Bell 

Please answer all of the following items according to the 

scale below. 

1 2 3 4 5 

Almost Never Once in Awhile Sometimes Frequently Almost 

Always 



Describe Your Marriage : 

1. We are supportive of each other during difficult times. 

2. In our relationship, it is easy for both of us to express 
our opinion. 

3 . It is easier to discuss problems with people outside the 
marriage than with my partner. 

4. We each have input regarding major family decisions. 

5. We spend time together when we are home. 

6. We are flexible in how we handle differences. 

7. We do things together. 

8. We discuss problems and feel good about the solutions. 

9. In our marriage, we each go our own way. 

10. We shift household responsibilities between us. 

11. We know each other's close friends. 

12 . It is hard to know what the rules are in our 
relationship . 

13. We consult each other on personal decisions. 

14. We freely say what we want. 

15. We have difficulty thinking of things to do together. 

16. We have a good balance of leadership in our marriage. 

17. We feel very close to each other. 

18. We operate on the principle of fairness in our marriage. 

19. I feel closer to people outside the marriage than to my 
partner . 

20. We try new ways of dealing with problems. 

21. I go along with what my partner decides to do. 

22. In our marriage, we share responsibilities. 

23. We like to spend our free time with each other. 

24. It is difficult to get a rule changed in our family. 

25. We avoid each other at home. 

26. When problems arise, we compromise. 

27. We approve of each other's friends. 

28. We are afraid to say what is on our minds. 

29. We tend to do things more separately. 

30. We share interests and hobbies with each other. 

109 



110 

FACES II: Couples Version 

David H. Olson, Joyce Portner & Richard Bell 

Please answer all of the following items according to the 
scale below 

1 2 3 4 5 

Almost Never Once in Awhile Sometimes Frequently Almost 
Always 



IDEALLY, how would you like YOUR MARRIAGE TO BE: 

1. We would be supportive of each other during difficult 
times . 

2. In our relationship, it would be easy for both of us to 
express our opinion. 

3 . It would be easier to discuss problems with people 
outside the marriage than with my partner. 

4. We would each have input regarding major family 
decisions . 

5. We would spend time together when we are home. 

6. We would be flexible in how we handle differences. 

7. We would do things together. 

8 . We would discuss problems and feel good about the 
solutions . 

9. In our marriage, we would each go our own way. 

10. We would shift household responsibilities between us. 

11. We would know each other's close friends. 

12 . It would be hard to know what the rules are in our 
relationship . 

13. We would consult each other on personal decisions. 

14 . We would freely say what we want . 

15. We would have difficulty thinking of things to do 
together. 

16. We would have a good balance of leadership in our 
marriage . 

17. We would feel very close to each other. 

18. We would operate on the principle of fairness in our 
marriage . 

19. I would feel closer to people outside the marriage than 
to my partner. 

20. We would try new ways of dealing with problems. 

21. I would go along with what my partner decides to do. 

22. In our marriage, we would share responsibilities. 

23. We would like to spend our free time with each other. 

24 . It would be difficult to get a rule changed in our 
family. 

25. We would avoid each other at home. 

26. When problems arise, we would compromise. 

27. We would approve of each other's friends. 

28. We would be afraid to say what is on our minds. 



Ill 

29. We would tend to do things more separately. 

30. We would share interests and hobbies with each other. 



APPENDIX F 
INTRODUCTORY LETTERS 



Department of Psychology 
PO Box 112250 
Gainesville, FL 32611 
(904) 392-0601 
Fax: (904) 392-7985 



Dear Research Participant, 



Thank you for agreeing to participate in my study, "A 
Comparison of Battered and Non-Battered Women Regarding 
Their Ideal Marital Relationship", that looks at the factors 
related to women getting into and remaining in abusive 
relationships. Enclosed you will find a letter describing 
the study and asking for your voluntary participation in 
addition to two questionnaires for you to complete. Please 
complete the questionnaires and return it to the designated 
place. Your prompt response will be appreciated. Please ask 
the designated staff member if you have any questions. 

Thank you again for your interest and participation. 

Sincerely, 

Jodi Samuels 



113 



114 

Department of Psychology 
PO Box 112250 
Gainesville, FL 32611 
(904) 392-0601 
Fax: (904) 392-7985 

Dear Research Participant, 

I would like to request your participation in a 
research study I am conducting. I am a doctoral student in 
the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of 
Florida in Gainesville, Florida. I am conducting a study on 
battered women. Specifically, my purpose is to examine the 
factors that might help explain why women get into and 
remain in abusive relationships through a couple 
questionnaires . 

I am attempting to locate women who have been 
physically struck by their mates (husband, boyfriend, 
ex-husband) within the past two years. In order to 
participate in this study, women must have completed an 
eighth grade education. 

Participation in this study involves completion of a 
questionnaire containing two parts with 3 items each and 
completion of a short questionnaire designed to obtain 
background information. This all should take less than 3 
minutes for you to complete. All responses are anonymous and 
therefore it will not be possible to ever connect you with 
the responses provided. The questionnaires will have a 
number at the top and this is simply to match the packet 
back together should anything get separated. 



115 

As much as I would like to compensate each woman for 
her participation, the most I can offer is my gratitude for 
helping in a study that I hope will contribute to the safety 
of battered women. To those who are interested, a copy of 
the results of this study will be available through "Women 
in Distress" . 

You do not have to answer any questions that you do not 
wish to answer and should you have any questions or concerns 
during or after participation in this study, a designated 
staff member is available to address these. Participation or 
non-participation in this study will not affect your status 
at any "Women in Distress" program. You are free to withdraw 
participation at any time. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I 
hope that you will agree to participate. I am eager to have 
your involvement in this study. 

Sincerely, 
Jodi Samuels 



APPENDIX G 
DEBRIEFING LETTER 



Department of Psychology 
PO Box 112250 
Gainesville, FL 32611 
(904) 392-0601 
Fax: (904) 392-7985 



Dear Research Participant, 

Thank you very much for participating in this study. 
The intent of this study was to measure your current 
perception of the relationship you have/had with your 
partner and what your ideal expectation would be for a 
relationship. It is important to determine how close those 
two measures would be and whether or not your ideal 
expectations could be considered potentially problematic. 

If you are interested in the results of this study you 
can obtain them in approximately 6 months from the same 
place you received these materials or by contacting me at 
the address printed above. 

If you have suffered any psychological/emotional stress 
or discomfort from participating in this study, you can call 
Women in Distress at 760-9800 where counseling will be made 
available or any other assistance needed. 



117 



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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 
Jodi Samuels Shir was born in Hollywood, Florida, on 
October 25, 1969. After graduating from Hollywood Hills 
High School in 1987, she attended the University of Florida 
and Tel -Aviv University in Israel. Jodi received the degree 
of Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida, with 
high honors in her major field of psychology and a minor in 
Jewish studies in 1991. During that same year, she entered 
the doctoral program in counseling psychology at the 
University of Florida and subsequently completed her 
master's degree in 1993. Jodi was married on December 24, 
1994, to Guy Shir and will be completing her internship at 
Nova Southeastern University. 



130 



I certify that I have read this study and that it my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholalrly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as 
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 



-y- 



Harry"" Grater, Chairman 
Professor of Psychology 

I certify that I have read this study and that it is my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholalrly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as 
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 



of Doctor 



Martin Heesacker 

Associate Professor of Psychology 



I certify that I have read this study and that it is my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope^and quality,,-)as 
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy:/' 



/v 



X 



/ 



JL 



Bob Ziller 

Professor'df Psychology 



I certify that I have read this study and that it is my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholalrly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as 
a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 



Bargad / 



Warren Bargad 

Associate Professor of English 



I certify that I have read this study and that it is my 
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly 
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as 
a dissertation for the degree of /Doctocr--of philosophy.* 

K. /.6<c-€^i:e^ (J ^^yP^^-c 

^rfSres Nazario 
Assistant Prof^^ssor of Psy&hology 



^ 




This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty 
of the Department of Psychology xn the College of Liberal 
Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School and was 
accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the 
degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 



August 19 96 -— -, , ^-1 

Dean, Graduate School